Usually when a player is coming off his best season through four in the NBA and has just re-upped for $70 million, teams usually don’t make a big free agent splash in signing another player to that same position. That’s exactly what the Phoenix Suns did though when they offered 24-year-old point guard Eric Bledsoe a new five year deal only to acquire Isaiah Thomas from the Sacramento Kings, clouding an already crowded Phoenix backcourt that also includes the up and coming Goran Dragic.
The three point-guard approach has Phoenix and fantasy basketball fans wondering exactly what the real value of Eric Bledsoe is going into 2014/15. His numbers last year were a pleasant surprise, but is it really fathomable to think that they will increase or even maintain with the presence of another prolific scorer in Thomas? Fans need to be wary before making a huge lineup decision moving forward.
The 2013/14 Bledsoe : Ups and Downs
Despite battling knee injuries that cause him to miss 39 games, Bledsoe was a key component of Phoenix resurgence as the Suns missed the Western Conference playoffs by a single game. For Bledsoe’s part he finished with career highs in PPG (17.7), Assists (5.5), Rebounds (4.7), and FG% (.477). Bledsoe score 20+ points in 7 of the last 14 games of the year which could give credence to his statistics once fully recovered from the knee problems.
The Phoenix Offense
If somebody didn’t know better they’d think Mike D’Antoni was still the coach of the Suns with their fast paced offense. New coach Jeff Hornacek preaches a similar fast-paced offensive approach that stresses getting the ball up the court in as little of time as possible. In fact, Bledsoe drew some ire from Hornacek last season at times when the coach thought he was tired or dragging because of walking the ball upcourt.
The Suns had the 7th highest scoring offense in the league averaging over 105 PPG last season. They are expected to maintain that offensive philosophy if not increase it as evidenced by the acquisition of Thomas. By all reports Bledsoe is ready for the run and gun this year and is anxious to prove his worth after the contract extension. The 6’1” guard is supposedly in the best shape of his life and wants to prevent his minutes from decreasing in the convoluted Suns backcourt.
Where’s The Value?
Just because Bledsoe is in shape doesn’t mean his production will increase this season, it’s just the nature of the best with the addition of Thomas, who himself has re-upped for 4-years and $27 million. Thomas is another young scorer who averaged 20.3 PPG last year with the Kings to go along with Dragic, who also averaged that same number. Phoenix could be innovative and go with the three-point guard small lineup but for whatever matchup problems that causes on offense, it ends up just as bad on the other end with none of the three cracking 6’4”.
Some sites have Bledsoe projected as a top 15 PG for 2015, notably behind Dragic who is a consensus top 10. Bledsoe could be a good stash in case of injury to either Dragic or Thomas but if everything plays out his projections are only 12.6 points and 4.1 assists, meaning there simply aren’t enough balls to go around in Phoenix.