Best-Case, Worst-Case Comparisons for Eric Bledsoe with Phoenix Suns

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts to his basket as he heads back on defense during a 112-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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And just like that, the Phoenix Suns have a new best player.

Eric Bledsoe should see his usage rate skyrocket now that he'll be competing for minutes with Goran Dragic instead of Chris Paul.

The ideal situation for Phoenix, fans, fantasy owners and Bledsoe himself would be for the Suns to trade Dragic for a shooter or shot-maker. But if the roster doesn't change, expect the Suns to use Bledsoe the way Houston uses James Harden.

Bledsoe is a playmaker. He creates with the ball and finishes without it.

In Phoenix, Bledsoe should be able to dominate the ball as a point guard or scorer. Assuming he gets that freedom, Bledsoe's best-case scenario as a Sun will be similar to John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

Besides the fact that they were teammates at Kentucky, Wall and Bledsoe share a number of similar strengths and weaknesses.


Above-the-Rim Athleticism

Bledsoe is in that upper class of athletes that only few have access to. It's the type of athleticism that allows him to make stunning plays above the rim, which contributes to easy buckets that wouldn't be so easy for most guards.

John Wall is no different. His 39'' max vertical leap doesn't even tell the story. When most point guards have to rely on low-percentage finesse shots, Wall can throw one down from above the rim.



Open-Floor Speed

Bledsoe is a dancing missile in the open floor, with the ability to change directions at full speed while handling the ball.

If Bledsoe is able to grab a defensive rebound or get a quick outlet pass from a teammate, he's a threat to beat an entire defensive unit back down the floor.

Wall is another lightning rod in transition. He takes coast-to-coast trips at least twice a game.

These guys possess a potent combination of speed, agility, athleticism and remarkable body control.


Half-Court Scoring, Playmaking

Both Bledsoe and Wall are dynamic offensive weapons. Whether it's creating for themselves or a teammate, both can break down defenses and set up scoring opportunities.

Unlike Bledsoe, Wall is a natural point guard. Bledsoe is more of a scorer who must make the transition due to his size limitations. But because of Bledsoe's ability to beat defenders off the dribble, he's a help-defender magnet, which ultimately results in four-on-threes, three-on-twos and two-on-ones.

Bledsoe and Wall have a bounce to their step that makes it difficult for anyone to individually contain them on the perimeter.

While we know how explosive Bledsoe and Wall can be attacking the rack, they both have similar perimeter games.

Bledsoe has shown promise as a mid-range shooter, but he still has work to do. He only made .4 three-pointers per game and is clearly much more comfortable within 20 feet of the rim.

Wall doesn't have much confidence in his long-range game either. He's only hit 15 total threes over his last two seasons.

Still, both can stick a jumper off the dribble in the mid-range, and it keeps defenders relatively honest.


Bledsoe's worst-case scenario would be something like Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics. Bradley is another tremendous athlete and blur in the open floor.

But Bradley lacks a natural position, and it's likely to keep him from becoming an All-Star-caliber guard. Neither Bradley nor Bledsoe are pure, pass-first facilitators. They would have to adjust to a role that requires more distributing then they're used to.

However, Bradley is an extremely effective defender, a rare strength for a 6'2'' guard. His quick feet, focus and athleticism allow him to really lock in on his man and make plays off the ball.

Bledsoe also has excellent defensive tools, which he uses to get his hands on passes and shots. With crazy strength for a 6'1.5'' guard, he can make life extremely uncomfortable for opposing ball-handlers.

Offensively, both Bledsoe and Bradley can score and create off the dribble, but their size might limit their high-percentage looks. In a full-time role playing 28 minutes a game, Bradley only shot 40 percent from the floor this past season.

With more reps, freedom and shots, Bledsoe might struggle to score efficiently, given he'll be guarded by starting defenders for longer stretches.

Either way, Bledsoe is bound to shine in Phoenix as a two-way playmaker. He's got the chance to dominate the ball and put up serious numbers in this offense.

Bledsoe's elite athleticism and dazzling skill set give him a chance to be a long-term starter in this league. If he's able to maximize his strengths and keep his weaknesses in check, we could be talking about another version of John Wall. If not, the Suns still get a guard in the mold of Avery Bradley who can make things happen on both sides of the ball.


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