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"The Clutchman" is known for being an ultimate team player with a diverse skill set that is reliable and cool under pressure.
When Eric Bledsoe arrived in Phoenix he wasted no time in making it clear that he doesn't shrink from big moments. It took all of two games for him to hit a game winner against the Utah Jazz in front of his new home crowd.
Bledsoe became a Sun before the 2013-14 season as part of a three team trade that liberated Eric from the shackles associated with backing up star point guard Chris Paul. The transition from reserve for the Los Angeles Clippers to starter for the Phoenix Suns has fostered foudroyant growth in one of the league's most athletic and dynamic players.
Bledsoe is a paradigm of diversity, making him a member of an elite group that is filling up the stat sheet this season. Among qualified players only James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Eric Bledsoe are averaging at least 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
In 2013-14 only Westbrook and LeBron James accomplished the feat. It just really takes a unique type of player to impact so many facets of the game.
While Bledsoe dazzles all four quarters, he coruscates even more when the going gets tough. Eric's clutch stats (courtesy NBA.com) attest to his impact. Clutch moments are defined as five minutes or less remaining with a five point or less differential.
Here's where he ranks among his peers with at least 10 clutch appearances.
2nd in total free throws made - 35 (James Harden is first with 37), 4th in free throws made per game.
10th in total points, 18th in points per game.
1st in total steals, 7th in steals per game.
Bledsoe's offensive production is boosted by an escalated level of aggression late in games. In particular, Eric forces the issue by attacking the basket and initiating contact. Having a point guard that can impose his will on the game is a great advantage, but Bledsoe is also learning to pick his moments and get his teammates involved. Markieff Morris's offensive production late in games has spiked, meaning the ball is not stopping in Bledsoe's hands.
Bledsoe is playing both ends of the court judging from his steal totals. Eric has been faulted for lapses in concentration on defense during games, but his concentration peaks when it counts.
While Eric may be reticent off the court, he lets his defense speak for itself during games. Bledsoe is always a highlight reel block waiting to happen, and late game situations don't deter his defensive heroics. Earlier this season his protege was served some cold revenge as he drove to the basket for a game winner against the Suns.
Though the Suns have been besieged by bad bounces at the buzzer this season, the future adumbrates auspiciously with Bledsoe poised to mature even more as he enters the prime of his career. If the Suns can shore up their team defense and rebounding issues the Suns may evolve into a devastating late game team with Eric as the cynosure.
The Suns have apparently turned over the reigns of the team to Bledsoe. With changes looming respective to the Suns current backcourt situation Eric may have an even larger role in the coming days and seasons. He is not without flaws, but one thing seems hard to argue with.
Eric Bledsoe is clutch.