We've all had injuries that heal fast, and we've all had some that don't. Sometimes, what appears to be a minor injury lingers on and on for much longer than expected.
You can safely say that Eric Bledsoe's left shin bruise fits in that latter category.
Clearly, the Suns want Eric Bledsoe back and Bledsoe wants to be back. He is the Suns' leading scorer at over 20 points per game, along with nearly seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Plus, he personally won a couple of games for the Suns in the early going: 17 points in one fourth quarter against New Orleans, and a game winning three against Utah.
According to SportVu data, Bledsoe was one of the game's top point guards this season:
- 12th in points created by assist per game (Dragic is 9th, by the way)
- 11th in assists per game (Dragic is 12th)
- 3rd in PPG on drives to the rim (7.2)
- 11th in team PPG on drives (8.6, while Dragic is 6th at 10.1)
- 8th in pull-up shot PPG (7.9)
- 4th in pull-up shot 3-pointers per game (1.0)
- 1st in pull-up FG% per game (53.8%, among those who take 4+ pull-ups per game)
The Suns were 5-4 with Bledsoe in the starting lineup, 2-1 with Dragic lined up with him.
Since Bledsoe has been out, the Suns are 2-3 despite Goran Dragic killing it from the PG position. The Suns definitely need a secondary playmaker on the floor next to Dragic to give them options in the half court. In addition, the Suns defense has slipped in recent games, at least partially due to missing Bledsoe in the back court.
Given the initially benign nature of a "shin bruise" compared to what appeared to be tougher injuries suffered by his PG counterpart Goran Dragic this season (stitches, hard hits to the head), a skeptic might worry that Bledsoe is injury prone.
I asked ClipsNation's blogger Steve Perrin about it last week when the absence stretched to three games:
Q: "Eric Bledsoe played 40 games in year 2 and 76 in year 3 of his career in LA. Now, he's missing his 3rd game in a row for a bruised shin. Did Bledsoe ever have rep for missing more games than he should, due to injury? Or, should I not be reading anything into this?"
Steve, ClipsNation: "The short answer is no. He had meniscus surgery during the lockout, which accounts for all of his missed time in 11-12. (He tried to come back earlier but wasn't ready. But still, it's meniscus surgery, hard to claim malingering.) He missed five games with a strained calf last season. As hard as he plays, as physical as he is, I'll take 76 out of 82 games."
That's good to hear. A blemish on a star's shine is an injury history that continually takes a player out of the lineup.
Luckily, Eric Bledsoe has never shown that pattern.