Eric Bledsoe: Ready or Not...
Almost every team in need grabbed a young point guard in last year’s draft, as 11 (not including Tyreke Evans) went in the first round alone. In this year’s draft, as few as two could go in the first round. The first is projected #1 overall selection, John Wall, and the second, could be his running mate Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe is a bit of an enigma to teams because he played away from his natural position for the majority of the time this year.
Having played the two guard in college certainly doesn't help Bledsoe from a statistical perspective, but after teams review footage, and bring him in for personal workouts, he should find a spot somewhere in the first round.
Point guard is considered the toughest position to "learn on the fly" in the NBA. Lead guards that have entered the league too early have historically struggled to live up to their potential. The incubation period of development in college basketball is particularly invaluable to young point guards. Point guard, similar to quarterback, being the toughest position to master from a mental stand point.
Detractors will argue that Bledsoe has no real feel for the point guard position and limited experience logging minutes on the college level. They are correct, but then again there's the potential factor.
Rajon Rondo fell into the 20s on draft night for many of the same reasons and has thrived in the Boston Celtics system. Is Bledsoe another Rondo? Unlikely. But could he end up being a similar type of steal late in the first round? Yes.
Proponents of Bledsoe will point to the success that Jrue Holiday showed late in the NBA season for the Sixers after a similar freshman year at UCLA playing alongside Darren Collison. Granted Holiday was a top 5 recruit for much of his high school career and entering college. Bledsoe on the other hand barely cracked the top 25 entering college.
There are some scouts who may question his ability to run an offense, but it's important to note that Bledsoe averaged 11 plus assists in high school, granted that was high school. He also did an admirable job of deferring to Wall, because at Kentucky, Wall was the franchise.
Scouts were quick to say that he should return to school, or that he’s not a true point, but those notions are debatable.
He’s 6’1 and built like a halfback, weighing a chiseled 195 pounds. He is one of the fastest players in college hoops, and also an excellent leaper with a 40 inch vertical, add in the 6’7 wingspan and he’s obviously a specimen.
Offensively, he handles the ball nicely with either hand, can stop on a dime, and shows solid balance. His body control and ability to finish are additional strengths to his game.
What has hurt, or arguably helped Bledsoe in the evaluation process has been playing the two guard spot next to the aforementioned Wooden Award winner Wall. He made some highlight reel passes, but he also had turnover issues that seems to have diminished his value.
He’s usually decisive with the ball, and plays under control in traffic but at times got caught trying to do too much. He doesn’t back down from anyone, and is very confident in his abilities. Sure, he sometimes played at 200 miles per hour like a chicken with it's head cut off, but it’s a lot easier to slow someone down, then to speed them up.
Another impressive aspect about Bledsoe is the fervor that he plays with. He comes at you, both offensively and defensively.
As a teammate of Wall, they enjoyed a strong friendship, with zero animosity. Word out of Kentucky is that they hung out all the time.
In High School, Bledsoe was a bit of a late bloomer, and that’s one of the biggest differences between him and Wall. Eric really found himself his senior year at Parker High in Alabama, where he took them to the 5A State Championship game putting up an impressive stat line of 20.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 11.5 assists. At Kentucky, he had modest numbers, scoring 11.3 points a game and dishing out 3 assists, his 3 turnovers per game were the one real weak spot.
His even assist to turnover ratio shows that he's likely not ready to contribute significantly at the next level, yet. He must learn to become better at protecting the ball. But a team that takes him likely won't be thinking of immediate returns. He will be a guy that can defend and knock down shots with the expectation/hope that he will ultimately be able to learn to become a full time point guard.
Bledsoe had a terrific NCAA tournament performance helping to solidify his place somewhere in the first round. His clutch performances and shooting show his ability to shine in important situations.
Another thing that scouts note in his favor is that it never appeared that he was "showing out", trying to help his own stock, and always appeared to be playing to win and for the team. That should go a long ways for him.
I think EB playing off the ball drew more attention to his game because he showed a lot more of what he could do.
Funny that you mention Jrue Holiday playing 2guard next to collison, but dont forget that Russell Westbrook played off ball next to collison and like Bledsoe wasnt highly touted during high school. Westbrook is probably better than Bledsoe at that point of his career, but Eric has alot of similarities to Russell. Like Westbrook and Jonny Flynn, IMO Bledsoe will rise his draft stock to a definite lottery pick.
I'm not sure Westbrook as a freshman was quite on Bledsoe's level. To me Bledsoe is a more athletic Kyle Lowry type. He was pretty good as a freshman, but has no business playing point guard at the nba level next year.
I think his skill set is more suited for shooting guard, but I also havent seen him play much point. He has the potential, but I think he might end up bieng a better off ball type. Quick slasher, or 3 point shooter, who plays tough defense and is a menace with quickness sounds about right for him.
I agree that bledsoe will be a lottery pick going as high to the grizzles since there the only ones in need of point guard even if conley there. The pacers could pick him but theres too much talent up front to pass up. Well Bledsoe should be a true pg averaging over 11 assist per in high school and before the whole rose ideal at memphis that made coach cal leave memphis for kentucky they where talking about how good of a recruit bledsoe's going to be at the point.
I think the Clippers take him at #8 if Wes Johnson is off the board.
he will be great in NBA...like Westbrook!!he plays too on SG because Collison was in UCLA!
Westbrook only played 9 minutes per game as a freshman so I wouldn't consider Westbrook better at this stage of his career b/c he was a non-factor.
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