Can Eric Bledsoe be the best perimeter defender in the NBA?

The Suns are looking to tank this year in the “race” for that #1 pick and the draft rights to the consensus top pick Andrew Wiggins. But that doesn’t mean they have to lose every night in a boring fashion. The GM of the Suns has created a team that sticks to the golden rule of bad NBA franchises: If you have to suck, at least be entertaining. They’ll lose enough to get a great pick in a loaded draft, but they’ll excite the crowds enough to keep the fans interested. They have Gerald Green to provide some highlights above the rim (like, way, way above the rim this season and some young players with big upside including Archie Goodwin, Alex Len and one of this pre seasons bright spots in Miles Plumlee.

Bledsoe Photo

This offseason they were able to bring the 23yr old Kentucky alum, Eric Bledsoe. He has the potential to become a building block for the Suns going forward.  Heading into the season, they had some pieces that they were looking to turn into more young talent through trades like Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat. This week they were able to ship Gortat to Washington for Emeka Okafor’s expiring deal and a top 12 protected first round pick in 2014. The Phoenix front office has now hoarded 6 first round picks in the next 2 drafts. With the amount of young, exciting talent and promise of more to come, there are enough elements to this team to keep Suns fans hopeful for a bright future.

Coming over from the Clippers this season, Bledsoe is unproven, and hasn’t had the chance to run a team yet. He learned from the best what goes into running a team properly, under the tutelage of the best point guard on the planet, Chris Paul and playing for Coach Calipari at Kentucky alongside John Wall. His jump shot needs work, and if he’s going to run the show and have the ball in his hands consistently he will need to be more mindful of taking care of the ball and cutting down on turnovers. If his offense catches up to his defence, he can be one of the most exciting 2-way guards in the association

Defensively, he has the tools and the mindset to be menacing for the opposition. Tucked in behind Ricky Rubio and Chris Paul last season at the top of steals/36mins, he figures to be among the league leaders in steals this year. His quickness, length and defensive instincts make him an elite thief in the passing lanes. Speaking of his length, his wingspan is a ridiculous 6’7.5” (the same as much taller wings known for their length such as Jimmy Butler and Iman Shumpert) and with a vertical leap in the 40’ neighbourhood, he has become one of the best guards in the league at getting blocks. It’s not unusual to see him challenge a big man at the rim, or stop a 2-on-1 fast break with a block, or use his quickness to execute a Lebron-esque chase down block. He’s not known to back down from a challenge at the rim, just ask Dwyane Wade.  

His per 36 numbers this season had him tallying 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per 36mins last season (**Sidenote**No player under 6’6 has averaged more than ≥ 1.3 blocks per game in NBA history). If the 6’0 point guard can produce those figures on a per game basis for a season that would put him in the company of only Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Gerald Wallace of reaching those averages. Pretty good company. His audacity and peskiness on defence is entertaining as hell to watch, and his presence on the court alone will have me watching more Phoenix Suns basketball on League Pass this season than some potential playoff teams.

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