When the Phoenix Suns traded Jared Dudley to the Los Angeles Clippers back in early July, they had one thing in mind: start over and rebuild with youth. That goal was seemingly underway, as they received the much-coveted guard Eric Bledsoe in return for the 28-year-old swingman.
Bledsoe has captured the attention of plenty around the league with his untapped potential on both ends of the court over the past couple of seasons. Playing behind one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Paul, however, made it difficult for Bledsoe to make a real name for himself. As long as he stayed with the Clippers, the chance to be more than a spectacular backup player was never going to present itself. Re-signing with the team was also going to be an unlikely scenario, which made it almost a necessity for the Clippers to trade him for a valuable asset, which in this case turned out to be Dudley and J.J. Redick.
With the Suns, Bledsoe has the ability to become a star point guard in the league. The problem is that the team already has a viable starter in Goran Dragic. They likely didn’t acquire Bledsoe to stash him on the bench, so there looks to be plenty of competition for the starting point guard role, although it’s probably the Slovenian’s to lose at this point. So the question is, can the two guards then start alongside each other instead of fighting for the same position?
RT @JacobPadilla_: What do you think about the Dragic-Bledsoe backcourt for PHX? ( I love both players! But hard to start both)
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) August 27, 2013
Paul and Bledsoe never started any games together in Los Angeles, but proved to be a dynamic duo when they shared the floor, although overall results were mixed at best. It’s worth noting that while Bledsoe is capable of creating for others, he appears to be at his best as a relentless attacker. Per 48-minute production by position, he produced a PER of 17.3 while playing the point. At shooting guard, his PER jumped to 23.6. So the numbers, while not huge in sample size, suggests that he may be best suited to play the two if he has to share the floor with Dragic.
Bledsoe, while capable of playing spectacular defense at times, is still grossly undersized at just 6’1″. Based on this and the fact that he’s behind Dragic in play-making ability, it appears unlikely for Bledsoe to be a starter in the upcoming season. That said, the Suns are thin at the guard positions with only Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Gerald Green threatening to play meaningful minutes. Bledsoe should receive plenty of minutes in the backcourt and if he thrives, the Suns will likely have a tough choice to make between him and Dragic before the end of the season.
James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter@SheridanBlog.