We’re officially at the point in the season where Eric Bledsoe might win this darned “award” every single week.
For Bledsoe, it hasn’t simply been a stellar performance this week. It’s been a season-long trend of his guidance and steadiness on the court; it was clear heading into the season that unless some veteran really showed out (or Devin Booker went bananas), things would get sticky in a hurry. Instead of letting a year of his prime fall by the wayside in the name of development, Bledsoe took it upon himself to sort things out.
So much of what the Suns try to do on offense descends outward from his ability to penetrate the paint from a variety of situations (and these actually are from the last week!):
You know how it all goes by this point; no matter who you gravitate toward on this fun young roster, you know that that player wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Eric Bledsoe around.
In his last 12 games (since a couple duds in Denver and Indianapolis), his stats:
.451 FG/.348 3PT/.889 FT
Pelicans play-by-play man Joel Meyers had this statistic in the broadcast of Sunday night’s home loss to New Orleans: Bledsoe is one of only five players to be averaging a 20-5-5 over the life of the 2016-17 season. Those other players are surefire All-NBA guys: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. So why can’t Bledsoe at least make an All-Star team?
This has clearly been the best season of his career, and voters love a good story. If the Suns can continue creeping back to respectability (an overtime win will get some positive hype his way!), Bledsoe has a shot.
And besides, All-Star voting is rarely contingent upon team success. The best (and most fun) players in the league are the best players in the league, no matter how they earn their numbers. It’s just unfortunate that Bledsoe finds himself matched up with such a strong crop of Western Conference guards. Chris Paul, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry represent an impenetrable voting wall, and they are all more valuable individual players than Bledsoe.
The question here is definitely more facetious; Eric Bledsoe could be an All-Star. He is posting per-minute numbers that fly off the stats page, and leading his inexperienced team to hard-fought victories. The team plays at a breakneck pace reminiscent of so many Suns teams past, and it highlights Bledsoe’s value.
His efficiency numbers are nice as well: 11th among NBA point guards by ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus metric, and rising up the leaderboards of other all-encompassing stats like Box Plus-Minus and PER. His turnovers are down to a Phoenix career-low 3.1 per game, while his assists have remained static. The free-throw shooting especially looks nice, and further shows his value on a team that struggles to get offense out of other players from time to time.
I’ll leave you with this: It’s in our power to make this happen! If Lakers fans could get Kobe into the All-Star game last year, and international fans consistently gave Yao Ming a spot in the 2000s, we can do it. Someone make a hashtag, someone else get Jared Dudley to retread his Dudley Double for All-Star voting. Let’s do this.