You had to have seen this week’s theme coming the moment the news broke that Eric Bledsoe was coming to Milwaukee in exchange for Greg Monroe and future protected first- and second-round picks. When a player with talent like Bledsoe is on the move, the media are going to gobble it up, doubly so when he gets sent to an early-season object of fascination like the Milwaukee Bucks.
So, with those factors in mind, I did the best I could to separate the wheat from the proverbial chaff in bringing you the best of the countless stories on the Bledsoe dynamic in Milwaukee. We’ll cover everything from the statistical breakdown to the big-picture trends that go into a trade of this importance. And so without further ado, I bring you the much-anticipated and quite welcome “Eric Bledsoe” edition of the column.
Mike Prada, basketball aficianado of our SBNation big boy basketball site is back with his recurring feature breaking down the x’s and o’s of the NBA. This time, he turns his meticulous attention towards Giannis Antetokounmpo and his ability to obliterate opponents without even needing the skeleton key jumper. Watch the full video below:
Breaking Down the Bledsoe Deal (Cleaning the Glass)
Cleaning the Glass is the latest in a long lineage of statistic-centric basketball sites to emerge from the revolution in advanced stats over the past number of years, and early reviews say it is more than worth the price of admission. Most content sits behind a paywall, but luckily this analysis of the Bledsoe trade sits largely open to the public.
The opening analogy is useful not only for understanding the context of this trade, but all trades within the NBA. That alone makes it a worthy primer before you dive into the sea of analysis floating around this past week.
This piece comes from Danny Leroux who breaks the deal into its component parts, and then quickly assesses the value of each to both teams. Suffice it to say, he believes the relative fit of Bledsoe in Milwaukee both this season and next on the court and in terms of salary makes this trade one decisively in the Bucks’ favor.
How adding Eric Bledsoe gives Bucks playmaking punch, takes pressure off Giannis Antetokounmpo (Sporting News)
We’ll dip back into Sporting News to parse out the ways Bledsoe changes the makeup of the team schematically.
The main areas of focus in Bledsoe’s game on offense are spots where the Bucks are notably lacking. Bledsoe relies consistently on pick-and-roll offensive sets and converts at a high clip; if he successfully integrates that in Milwaukee he could easily add a much-needed new dimension for Giannis Antetokounmpo off-ball. Bledsoe also does well finishing around the rim (unlike, say, I don’t know, Matthew Dellavedova) and attacking in transition, both aspects that should augment the Bucks on offense.
Defensively, it is much harder to gauge just how much he’ll impact one of the league’s worst units (in DRTG). Given his lacking effort in Phoenix and wholesale dismissal to the bench 3⁄4 of the way through last season, your guess is as good as mine as to how Bledsoe will perform throughout the year on that end of the court.
I’ll give you the quick summary: Yes, yes, yes, and maybe. With any trade so much relies on the amount of time a new addition has to gel with an existing system. Lucky for Milwaukee, then, that they’ve still got 70 games (and ideally the playoffs) left to figure things out.
In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of Dan Devine’s take on the Bledsoe trade has to do with understanding Eric Bledsoe’s statistical profile these past few seasons in Phoenix. He’s such a tough player to properly determine a value of because he’s either playing with a number of other ball-dominant guards (i.e. Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas) or stuck facilitating to a roster replete with teenagers just getting their NBA legs under them.
For the first time in a long time, the league will see Bledsoe in a ready-to-compete-now environment where he can take a lion’s share of the playmaking role. If he’s still a top talent like many believe him to be, we’ll see it play out in broad daylight in Milwaukee.
I hadn’t considered that there could be double-digit combined winners and losers from this deal, but the SB Nation mothership makes a few good points. One that I would contend against? That Jabari Parker is a loser coming out of the trade.
My argument relies on the fact that Parker, whose value lies almost completely on the offensive end of the court, won’t lose out to Bledsoe in the short- or long-term. Yes, Bledsoe will take more of the usage available, but Parker isn’t really an on-ball threat and could benefit as a sneaky scoring option when opposing defenses are forced to split their gazes between Bledsoe, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and (hopefully) Khris Middleton. Beyond next season, either Bledsoe heads to another franchise, opening up room for Parker to take on a bigger load, or he sticks around with a reduced role.
I could also be totally crazy. Who knows?
We Have to Get Eric Bledsoe on the Bucks (Grantland)
A throwback to a simpler time and a simpler place for the Bucks. Just goes to show just how long the Eric Bledsoe-to-Milwaukee drumbeat has been playing. And so things come full-circle, just like everyone kind of predicted.
This piece is just lovely, dissecting the state of “Giannis Antetokounmpo, NBA superstar”. And what a unique star he has proven to be, at least compared to some of the routinely larger-than-life personalities of players who reside at the NBA’s mountaintop alongside Giannis. His quiet demeanor off the court, his disinterest in producing a replication of “LeBron Inc.”, and his insistence to dedicate almost all of his free-time to either practice or his family set him quite apart from other stars.
As his reputation grows, he may find it difficult to maintain the low-key approach he’s used so far, but, if anything, more popularity might serve simply as a motivator to get Giannis back in the gym, back to his roots with his family, and upwards in historical greatness.
I know he’s currently ‘Public Enemy #1’ in Milwaukee, and I can’t argue with it given just how tough a start to the year he’s had, but I loved this long-form piece on the state of Khris Middleton in his sixth NBA season. Definitely worth a read, if only to familiarize yourself with Middleton before he gives you heartburn hopping aboard the Tough Shot Express once again.
From the Social Media Realm
I’ll keep it to one this week given the number of stories, but I promise it is worth your while:
Fine, make it two good ones:
This week the Bucks start hosting the Memphis Grizzlies tonight in Milwaukee, then welcome the Detroit Pistons to town on Wednesday, and head to Texas Saturday to play the Dallas Mavericks. Memphis and Detroit have been surprising successes this early in the season and Dallas a true dumpster fire, but I’ve got a good feeling about this week, so good that I’ll lay it all on the Bucks and their grabbing a 3-0 mark and smashing their way back into the national conversation after a bit of time spent in NBA purgatory.
Overall, I suggest we all just ride the early hype built around the Eric Bledsoe-era in Milwaukee. It could come tumbling down any moment, but the beauty of NBA trades is just how much of a buzz they can create around a team. Milwaukee began the year internalizing that buzz, but lately had lost it. Now it seems they’ve got it back, and we get to enjoy the show.