I don't think we appreciate Eric Bledsoe nearly as much as we should.
After last night's rough loss to the Detroit Pistons, Dave gave the fans on this website the opportunity to rank the players and rate their performances. In typical fashion, Goran Dragic, who finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 turnovers on 8-12 shooting, was given 113 likes and 22 dislikes.
On the other hand, Eric Bledsoe, who shot 6-9 from the field and finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers, was given 53 likes and 69 dislikes.
Now, it is clear that the team did not play with much effort last night, and that few players deserved to be praised. But to me it is mind-boggling that there was such a discrepancy in support among the fans for our two backcourt stars. A European bias perhaps? After all, the article was posted at a time when many Arizonans were asleep.
And yet, I get the sense that this is still Goran Dragic's team in the minds of the fans. Hell, I've already made 2 Dragic videos in just a month. And Dragic is, after all, the one who has been with the team for half a decade now (over two stints).
But maybe it's time that we started sharing some of that affection with Eric as well. The stats are telling us that so far, he has deserved every penny of that contract extension.
Over the past 10 games, Bledsoe has averaged 19.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Over that span, he also shot 45% from the field, 34% from deep and 90% from the free-throw line.
He is doing it all right now, and has become a supreme stat sheet stuffer. His triple-double against the Clippers several days ago (27 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists) is further proof of what he is capable of at his best.
Are turnovers still a problem for him? Absolutely. Bledsoe is averaging 3.7 turnovers per 36 minutes, which is even more than the 3.6 turnovers he averaged in 2013-14. And while that is an ugly number, you would be hard-pressed to find other areas of his game right now to complain about.
Look at it this way. If the NBA salary cap will really be as much as $91.2 million by 2016-17 due to the new TV deal, then Bledsoe's $14 million salary that year will account for 15.35% of the cap. That is when Bledsoe will be 27, and likely in his prime.
On the NBA's current cap of $63.065 million, Ty Lawson's $11.6 million contract takes up 18.4% of the cap. That is considered a fair deal, and yet the borderline All-Star Lawson is currently shooting 40% from the field (though, to his credit, is also averaging about 16 points and 10 assists per game). If that is a fair deal, then Bledsoe is an absolute bargain.
Here are Bledsoe's highlights from the first quarter of the season. One miscellaneous but exciting stat is the fact that he has dunked the ball 9 times in only 24 games so far. Last season, he dunked just 5 times in 43 games. Bad for the knees, but good for the highlight reels I suppose.
Also, Anthony Tolliver made his way into this highlight reel by sinking a three. That's my subtle message to all of you to not be so down on Tolliver. Telling you that that was my subtle message is my not-so-subtle message that you shouldn't be so down on Tolliver.
Seriously, though. He's made 44% of his threes over the past 12 games.