We’ve been saying Eric Bledsoe should start for two years, and now finally someone agrees
I said it when the Clippers drafted Eric Bledsoe with the 18th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. I said it after he was named to the All-Rookie second team last year. And I said it when they acquired Chris Paul via trade.
Finally, someone else agrees.
From the Sporting News…
In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, the Spurs dismantled the Clippers with stellar execution.
They even slowed down Chris Paul, who managed only six points on 3-13 shooting. If the series continues like this, the Clippers will fall in four without much of a fight.
Chris Paul needs assistance, evident when he dribbles the ball for the majority of the shot clock leading to inexplicable jump shots from Blake Griffin. To whom can the Clips look?
Enter Eric Bledsoe. The X-factor of a struggling Clippers squad, Bledsoe erupted for 23 points in 27 minutes against the Spurs in Game 1.
Bledsoe, John Wall’s former backup at Kentucky, is capable of putting up efforts like that nightly, if he gets the minutes. The problem is, he hasn’t been. Bledsoe is averaging just 15.5 minutes in the postseason.
Coach Vinny Del Negro is known for getting players to play their hardest for him—in the 2009 playoffs Del Negro coached the Bulls to a Game 7 against the favored Celtics. But Bledsoe has yet to be rewarded for his effort.
Bledsoe had five rebounds in Game 1, four offensive, which, against Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, shows effort.
It’s clear Bledsoe’s earned a start, and not just with his offense. He helped lock down on Tony Parker on Tuesday night, forcing Parker into a 1-for-9 shooting night.
Bledsoe has also outplayed Randy Foye, the nominal starter, outstripping Foye in almost every category.
With Paul battling a hip flexor, the Clippers need another ball-handler to take off the pressure. They have already shown that they don’t mind starting two point guards—Chauncey Billups started the season before his injury—so Bledsoe fits with that strategy.
Foye’s player efficiency rating has dropped to 8.3 in the postseason from 13.5 in the regular season, while Bledsoe’s PER has increased from 11.2 to a team-best 25.5 in the playoffs.
Foye is a 3-point specialist who is shooting 40.0 percent from the arc this postseason—compared to Bledsoe’s 33.3—but that’s not enough to ward off replacement. During this postseason, Bledsoe is averaging eight points per game to Foye’s 7.1 despite playing fewer minutes.
Allowing Bledsoe to supplant Foye would also allow Nick Young to take on the true sixth man status. Bledsoe and Young both benefit by having the ball in their hands; allowing them to replace each other more often would help eliminate this problem and give life to this lethargic offense.
The Clippers can’t solely rely on Paul to give them a chance in this series, and can’t pin their hopes on Griffin and his poor shot selection. Unleash the beast. Bledsoe could foil the Spurs chances’ at an easy series.
All he needs is an opportunity.