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The curious case of Eric Bledsoe and the question of fit

Eric Bledsoe might be the most interesting player on the Milwaukee Bucks’ roster. He has so much potential, but has yet to fully reach it.

Eric Bledsoe brings the ball up the court and quickly takes it to the right hash mark. He dribbles between his legs for a bit, waiting for the opposition to take the bait. Before you or the defender know it, Bledsoe has slashed his way to the rim.

It’s just over a year since Bledsoe landed with his current team, but this is a sight Milwaukee Bucks fans have already seen countless times.

Usually, that scenario pans out and leads to a quick two. Other times, not so much.

The ‘Bledsoe putting his head down and dribbling into multiple defenders’ play is one that the Bucks seem to run often, although the arrival of Mike Budenholzer is starting to change that. Sure, it pays off once in awhile, but other times it becomes a wasted possession.

Bledsoe is the Bucks’ player with the greatest variance when it comes to performance level. When he’s on, he’s scorching hot. When he’s off, he’s cold as ice; and not in a good way.

As a point guard, it’s Bledsoe’s duty to be the primary ball-handler, even though with the Bucks he often shares the court with players who are equally well-equipped in that department. Bledsoe is a player that constantly needs touches to be effective. Think of him like a campfire; the more wood you add to the fire, the better it will burn.

Unfortunately, in this scenario that takes away from the soon-to-be MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

For the Bucks to succeed, the ball has to be in Giannis’ hands. He can score at will, and understands when to pass and when to be aggressive. This is something that will hopefully rub off on Bledsoe.

If Bledsoe could utilize his touches better and distribute the ball like a true point guard, he could easily average 10 assists per game. Giannis is the Bucks’ offensive focal point for a reason.

Similar to Giannis, Bledsoe’s driving ability garners attention from extra defenders. When he drives, it’s almost always a guaranteed bucket, so teams know better than to leave him on an island.

For that reason, teams collapse additional defenders onto Bledsoe. When this occurs, Bledsoe needs to find the open man, kick it out, and rack up the easy assists. Remember, threes are worth more than twos.

For a time in Phoenix, Bledsoe was the primary scoring option. Since joining Milwaukee, his mindset hasn’t necessarily changed… yet.

Bledsoe is currently averaging twelve shots per game on 46 percent shooting from the field.

On the other hand, Giannis is putting up 18 shots on 55 percent shooting. Giannis takes smarter shots and finds open targets on the perimeter.

Bledsoe’s numbers could easily be improved upon by looking for open passing lanes when he attempts to drive. It’s the Giannis formula. Drive the ball, and if they stop you, look to pass.

Everyone around Giannis is a complementary piece. Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton are generally the shooters, while Bledsoe and Giannis attack the rim and distribute the ball.

That is by no means an indictment of Eric Bledsoe, though. He can be so good.

Eric Bledsoe has proven time and again that he can come up in the clutch, a recent example being his step-back three against the Nuggets, which was a thing of cold hearted beauty (and more than a little fortune).

Yet at almost 29-years-old, Bledsoe is still learning his role on the team, and is gradually becoming more comfortable with the offense.

He has more talent than the majority of point guards in the league.

At one point, he was nicknamed ‘mini LeBron’, and for good reason.

Bledsoe is an elite inside scorer, with a developing jump-shot. He is a defensive hound, and has no quarrels with taking on the league’s premier guards.

Bledsoe is also insanely athletic. Standing at only 6’ 1’’, Bledsoe can throw it down with the best of them.

The potential is there. In fact, the ability is there, but it’s still waiting to be put together on a more regular basis.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: A key to the Bucks’ newfound defensive discipline

When he is unselfish, Eric Bledsoe is one of the best point guards in the NBA. He has all the right tools at this disposal, and should his improvement continue, you can expect his ranking in the league to rise even further as well.

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