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Three Bs: Eric Bledsoe

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2017-18 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations. For this series, we wanted to look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what they do that helps (Boon), what they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).

I had a cool logo featuring a trio of Bs, but got a “cease and desist” notice from a lawyer wearing $200 flip flops. Oh well. Today, we’re looking at Mini LeBron himself, Eric Bledsoe (because I said so!)

Season Stats (per 36 minutes)

  • Points/36: 20.4 (11th among point guards)
  • Assists/36: 5.7 (48th among point guards)
  • Steals/36: 2.3 (4th among point guards, 13th overall)
  • Turnovers/36: 3.3 (82nd among point guards)
  • 3Pt%: 0.347 (47th among point guards)

Bledsoe’s Boon: Dynamic Athleticism

There is a certain list of skills that everybody wants in a point guard: passing ability, a tight handle, and a sweet shooting stroke are high on that list. When Eric Bledsoe tweeted his way out of Phoenix and into Milwaukee, he showed why “elite athlete” is another item worth a spot on the wish list. Using his speed, he could blaze past defenders in transition and off of ball screens to get to his spots: layups at the rim or a surprisingly-consistent elbow jumper, both fueling his 17.4 points/game. His combination of quickness and strength would also help blow up the P&R on defense and protect Milwaukee on switches, and his fast hands (2.0 steals/game) helped jump-start the Bucks’ transition attack.

Bledsoe’s Bane: Questionable Decision-Making

One of the downsides of becoming reliant on your athleticism is that you end up trusting it more than you should. For Bledsoe, who has generally appeared to be more talented than skilled, this usually manifested itself on defense, where he would abandon his post in search of generating a turnover, unnecessarily doubling a player who didn’t need to be doubled, resulting in the ball moving to the opening left behind and eventually to an open shot. Even with his “meh” outside shooting, Bledsoe’s defensive gambles were the most harmful aspect of his game this season, and made it more difficult to balance out with his positive contributions. And this is all before considering the trend that created the hashtag-that-is-not-yet-a-fully-fledged-hashtag:

Does Bledsoe Belong?

At the time of the trade, Bledsoe joined the Bucks and became the team’s second-best player behind Giannis. Khris Middleton, as steady as ever, eventually overtook him for that designation, and while Khris saved his absolute best for last (during the playoffs), Bledsoe was either invisible or simply outplayed in the postseason. Bledsoe’s bad habits and pending payday (owed $15.0M next season, unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2019) make his future in Milwaukee uncertain; he brings a highlight play dynamism to the team, but if his next coach can’t reign him in from his wandering ways, the Bucks might not be willing to pay up for a guard who will be a 29-year old free agent next offseason. If a team values his strengths and is willing to put up with his weaknesses, Milwaukee might be tempted to sell high(ish).