Eric Bledsoe’s Disappearing Act

Three years ago, Eric Bledsoe held the Phoenix Suns hostage until they paid him a max deal. It was a familiar negotiation. You know me so what are you going to pay me? Maybe the Suns hesitated for so long because they had a clue that in 2018 in the playoffs Bledsoe’s PER would be 4.3 and he would be shooting 36% and his 10 points per game would be 7 points less than the regular season and he would embarrass himself by saying he didn’t know who Terry Rozier was when Rozier is lighting him up. Maybe that is why the Suns paused. What the Suns knew was that Bledsoe, a Calipari product, had this amazingly preternatural ability to hurt his knee and miss a lot of games. What the Suns also knew was that Bledsoe was a versatile player. He could defend at the rim, given his six foot size. He could dribble pull up and then three points would be on the board. He could drive downhill for a bucket. He had court vision and was skilled in the paint with the dribble. More importantly, he had that one thing so many NBAers think they have but are in short supply of. Eric Bledsoe is tough.

Or was tough.

After getting his money, Bledsoe forced his way out of Phoenix two years later with some passive-aggressive social media nonsense that said get me the hell out of here in so many words and the Suns, reluctantly, did. But Bledsoe wasn’t anyone’s cure, particularly not  MIlwaukee’s.

Fast forward to the playoffs and Bledsoe is getting his lunch handed to him by Terry Rozier. Rozier is the Kyrie Irving or Marcus Smart backup. Rozier, the third year player, is a typical Lousiville Rick Pitino product. They compete. They have confidence. They don’t back down. And they love jamming someone up who thinks he is better.

Rozier is so in Bledsoe’s head he made Bledsoe act like an 8th grader post-game and pretend he didn’t even know who Rozier was. We all see how Rozier is making Bledsoe invisible. Bledsoe is giving the Bucks nothing but sad eyes and a PER lower than a kindergarteners age.  If you measure trades by playoff impact, the Suns got over by getting rid of Bledsoe, who looks way overmatched. His offensive rating in the playoffs is 79. Really. That’s not a joke.

There was a time when Bledsoe was coveted.

A one year Kentucky product, he was the 18th pick in the 2010 NBA draft. He was selected by the Thunder on draft night and traded to the Clippers who had no idea that Bledsoe would battle Chris Paul as a starter. It wasn’t that Bledsoe was as good as Paul; he wasn’t. But it was clear that Eric Bledsoe was good enough to run a NBA team.

Eric BledsoeMax Player Locations Points FG% 3-Point% Offensive Rating
Phoenix 18.8 44.9% 34.0% 108
Milwaukee 17.8 47.6% 34.9% 109

Bledsoe’s first year in the league, Paul, as usual, was injured. Bledsoe took his place and even though he had his rookie moments he passed the eye test. The biggest blunder in Doc Rivers history was getting rid of Bledsoe because he couldn’t or didn’t want to pay him considering the Clippers still had to pay DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.  If they had Bledsoe next to Paul a couple of years ago, the Clippers may have made a Western Conference Finals appearance.

Or not.

Bledsoe has the Chris Paul injury disease. He has played an 80 game schedule twice in his career, the last time three years ago.

With the Suns, Bledsoe had a shin injury that later became a meniscus injury. Another meniscus injury ended his 2015-16 season and the question was suddenly legitimate: can he stay healthy. Is he Derrick Rose-ing his career?

He was the first Sun since Amare Stoudamire to have three straight 30 point games. In Feburary of 2015 he only needed 11 days to drop three 40 point games (January 22, January 28, February 1). He dropped 11 dimes against the 76ers. 13 dimes against Toronto and the Lakers.

2018 Playoffs Points FG% 3Point% PER
Milwaukee 10.5 36% 33% 4.3

There were a lot of haters that clowned his $70 million dollar contract and then meme-d him after his social media plea for rescue.  Bledsoe is not having the last word, despite getting what he wanted. He is still being clowned. He is not making his teammates better. The Bucks backcourt has been awful and Bledsoe is a part of that. He has to own it but won’t. He can’t even own that Rozier is in his head.

Bledsoe is a free agent in the summer of 2019. He will be 30 by then and if things play out with the Bucks he could really cash in. Or not, if he continues to play like he’s scared of Terry Rozier.  A start would be reading the Rozier scouting report. And then not faking like you never heard of him. That’s making an excuse for what you are not doing. Being professional helps.

I think they are laughing in Phoenix.