The Los Angeles Clippers' backup point guard phenom, Eric Bledsoe, has seen his share of respect and praise from players and teams. Other than Josh Smith, Bledsoe has probably been the biggest name in trade rumors this season, considering that his play this season has improved enough to garner interest around the league.
But is Bledsoe really that great of a player who can single-handedly boost a franchise into contention? Either way, he's still a backup point guard to the best point guard in the NBA and fits into the Clippers' fast-paced system rather well.
Trade offers for Bledsoe that included the likes of Paul Millsap (via ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein) or Kevin Garnett (via ESPN's Marc Stein)—two proven, capable big men—fell through and never happened before the trade deadline.
There's no questioning Bledsoe's potential and incredible athletic ability, but right now he hasn't proven to be anything other than a great, energetic point guard off the bench.
Those numbers are solid, but they were still far below Bledsoe's per-36 minute averages when he was coming off of the bench. That's probably because Bledsoe could play with exceptional energy and hustle in only the 20 minutes per game, but he cannot sustain that level of play as the game wears on.
Playing behind Paul is the perfect situation for Bledsoe, and that is why he has thrived. The teams that want to make Bledsoe a starter for their respective teams should have second thoughts.
He might grow into a great starting point guard in the future, but it will take some time—he isn't ready for that role right now.
Bledsoe is a major part of the motor that makes Lob City run through opposing teams. He can execute great alley-oops passes to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but he doesn't have the type of court vision one would expect from a point guard.
In the games he started, he only put up a mediocre assist-turnover ratio of 1.9. He's mainly called upon to contribute to other areas of the game, primarily driving the ball to the rim and playing relentless defense on the perimeter.
I guess he could be considered a combo-guard, but at 6'1", he doesn't have the length to get past taller, quicker defenders or to be able to defend bigger wing players.
Throughout his three seasons in the league, we've been spoiled by his highlight blocks and spectacular dunks. Make no mistake, he certainly brings entertainment value because he would probably make one play every game that pleases the crowd.
With uncanny athleticism and an improving outside shot, Bledsoe will become a great player in the future. But right now, he's nothing more than a great backup point guard in a system that's suited for him.