Situational Statistics: This Year’s Point Guard Crop June 9, 2010 The fact that Eric Bledsoe didn’t play much point guard last season doesn’t flatter him in this analysis, and his lack of touches as a lead guard show in many of his situational efficiency measures.
Playing off the ball next to John Wall, Bledsoe posted solid numbers in some areas, but struggled mightily in others. His adjusted field goal percentage of 54% is third best in this group and is second to only Scottie Reynolds amongst college players. However, 22.1% of all of his possessions resulted in turnovers, the highest rate of any prospect at his position.
The most apparent example of Bledsoe’s role for Kentucky last season lies in his spot up percentages. Some 35.3% of his possessions were spot ups, the highest percentage in this group by more than 10%. In the same vein, his 4.9% pick and roll rate is by far the lowest. Whatever team drafts Bledsoe will surely need to play him alongside an additional ball-handler, as he clearly isn’t ready to handle full-time playmaking responsibilities himself, at least initially.
Despite not projecting as a shooting guard on the next level, Bledsoe would have some nice tools to play the two. He ranks as the third most efficient shooter in this group in terms of points per-shot from jumpers at 1.08 per-attempt. Despite hitting just 35.3% of his jump shots off the dribble, Bledsoe shot a ridiculous 66.7% adjust field goal percentage in unguarded catch and shoot situations. Should he land with a team with a shooting guard capable of distributing the ball, Bledsoe could add some nice things off the bench given the athleticism he offers along with his shooting and get a chance to refine his lead guard skills and cut down on mistakes over time. [Read Full Article] NBA Combine Interviews: Bledsoe, Alabi, Hayward, Sanders, Whiteside May 26, 2010
Landry Fields: The Players You See. The Players I Play April 25, 2010 Bledsoe is a tremendous athlete who had an OK game against us. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t outstanding. However, he does have an extreme amount of talent. I love his intensity for the game though. While sometimes he can let his emotions get the best of him, his passion goes unmatched and it showed against us. A few plays he just wanted it more than us. [Read Full Article] NCAA Weekly Performers, 4/6/10 April 6, 2010 Scott Nadler
Now that the college basketball season is officially behind us, all of the attention will be centered on who’s staying in school and who will declare for the NBA draft by the fast approaching April 25th deadline. One prospect with a difficult decision to make is Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe. With many questions regarding his game still looming, Bledsoe regardless appears to be leaning towards putting his name in the draft.
There’s no denying the physical gifts that Bledsoe possesses. He has a solid frame and a long wingspan with an impressive physique for a 19 year old, looking quite a bit more physically developed than his age would suggest. His quickness and athleticism are off the charts as he’s shown the ability to get down the court in a hurry and also finish around the basket with flair and creativity.
Being part of a team however stacked with talent, Bledsoe’s role was a rather simple one and thus his talents were never fully displayed in a true capacity, which could very well have been to his advantage. Playing off the likes of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson, Bledsoe didn’t have the chance to be anything other than a complimentary player, spending most of his time as a spot up shooter - which accounted for 35% of his offense. At only 6-1, Bledsoe will surely have to be a point guard at the next level, which is a position we rarely saw him play this season, and which he struggled at badly whenever he did.
As a result, he spent a limited amount of time in pick and roll situations (5%) and looked uncomfortable leading the team in the few instances he was trusted with the ball in his hands. Bledsoe has a tendency to over- dribble and over-commit when driving to the basket, appearing out of control at times, which is a big reason for his extremely high turnover rate—coughing the ball up on an incredible 27% of his possessions. He averaged more turnovers than assists, giving him both the worst AST/TO ratio and pure point rating of any point guard prospect in this draft.
On a positive note, Bledsoe can get into the lane with ease due to his blur-like speed and ability to two-step in traffic. He can use either hand effectively as well, but did struggle finishing around the hoop, only converting on 48.1% of his shots and he attempted a less than stellar 4.3 FT’s per 40 p/adjusted, making only 2/3 of his shots from the stripe.
In his role off the ball, Bledsoe didn’t show us much as a scorer either, only putting up 14.2 points per 40 pace adjusted in his 30 minutes of action. He‘s been inconsistent as a scorer and shooter much of the season, as evidenced by his NCAA opening round 29 point explosion on 9-11 shooting to his 7 points on 3 for 9 shooting in Kentucky’s elite 8 exit to West Virginia.
He has a slow release and a bit of a set shot right now which didn’t cause too many issues as he was often wide open for catch and shoot jumpers. He’ll need to quicken the release for the next level, but his solid mechanics and good range suggest he should be able to make the adjustment.
An area that is a bit more difficult to improve is shooting off the dribble; an aspect of Bledsoe’s game which was nearly invisible (10-30 all season).This is somewhat of a concern at this point, as he’ll be expected to pull up off ball screens or in transition in the NBA. The rigid nature of his flat-footed shot and the lack of elevation he gets may make it necessary for him to completely retool his mechanics if he’s to improve his scoring prowess.
As a defender, Bledsoe’s physical tools make him very effective. His length and lateral quickness suggest he can compete at this end of the floor immediately in the pros. He’s a better on the ball defender than he is off the ball, often relaxing at times or losing focus when he isn’t directly involved with the play. Nonetheless, his toughness, strength and athleticism will serve him well.
Bledsoe’s stock appears to be all over the place, with some analysts (such as ESPN’s Chad Ford) suggesting he is a sure-fire lottery pick virtually all season long, while other NBA teams have him pegged as a clear-cut second round pick. Opinions about him vary greatly, and it will be interesting to see how he’s perceived once NBA teams really sit down to dissect his game and figure out how he far off he may be from contributing. His athleticism and quickness are huge selling points, but his decision making, point guard skills and unpolished offensive skills are major red flags. All indications thus far point to him entering the draft, and only time will tell whether or not this decision was the right one. [Read Full Article]
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/28/10 January 28, 2010 Jonathan Givony
In a draft class that appears completely devoid of quality point guard prospects (just one—John Wall-currently ranks in the top 25 of our latest mock draft), NBA teams with playmaking issues are frantically searching for players to fall in love with.
The latest name to emerge is that of Kentucky freshman Eric Bledsoe, who currently sees most of his minutes playing off the ball, but clearly shows excellent potential thanks to his rare athletic gifts.
A late bloomer who was not an considered an elite college recruit (partially due to academic concerns) until late in his high school career, Bledsoe was initially (and very briefly) committed to play at Ole Miss, but eventually found his way to Kentucky after the hiring of John Calipari.
The intrigue around Bledsoe mainly revolves around his outstanding physical profile, as despite showing average size at just 6-1, he sports a nice frame, an excellent wingspan, and terrific athleticism. He has a great first step, is extremely quick off his feet, and shows excellent end to end speed operating in the open court.
Playing around 30 minutes per game, Bledsoe typically serves as his team’s fourth or fifth option offensively, putting up pedestrian scoring numbers, and not doing so in a particularly efficient manner at that. He shoots just 46.5% from 2-point range, is incredibly turnover prone, and does not get to the free throw line at a very good rate.
On the positive side, Bledsoe is knocking down 3-pointers at an excellent 44% clip, although the sample size leaves something be desired considering that he’s made just 24 of them on the season in 19 games, or one every for 24 minutes of action he sees. Digging deeper into the film at our disposal leads us to become a bit less optimistic about his outstanding 3-point percentages, seeing that Bledsoe sports a flat-footed and fairly slow-looking release on his shot, struggling badly when forced to take contested jumpers or shoot off the dribble.
Playing alongside the likes of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousin and Patrick Patterson clearly has its perks, as he’s getting quite a few wide open looks with his feet set every game, only some of which he elects to take. It’s safe to say that Bledsoe must continue to work on expanding his shooting range, mechanics and overall consistency, particularly pulling up in the mid-range area, where NBA point guards tend to operate the most.
As a slasher is where Bledsoe shows the most potential as an NBA prospect down the road, as he has superb quickness getting by his defender, and is able to create his own shot either left or right almost equally as effectively. He’s absolutely lethal in transition, doing an excellent job of using his speed to push the ball up the floor in the open court, where he can finish himself or find an open teammate running with him. Most of his assists indeed come in transition, as Bledsoe does a good job penetrating unbalanced defenses and making simple reads in drive and dish situations, not appearing to be a selfish player in the least bit.
Where Bledsoe tends to struggle far more is in the half-court, as his skill-level clearly hasn’t caught up to his physical tools at this point in time. He shows many of the same issues that most young, ultra athletic American guards do early in their career, as he’s no longer able to get by solely on his athleticism and pure talent the way he did in high school and AAU.
Just an average ball-handler at this juncture, Bledsoe has a tendency to dribble the air out of the ball when the tempo of the game slows down, only being able to play at one speed (full throttle) and often causing Kentucky’s half-court offense to look extremely stagnant. He does not show the temperament of a true point guard at this point in time, looking much more comfortable playing alongside his teammate John Wall and not having the burden of steering the ship on his shoulders.
Bledsoe struggles to create his own shot in half-court situations, dribbling the ball with his head down and running into brick walls excessively, one of the main reasons he ranks amongst the most turnover prone players in all of college basketball.
Palming violations, traveling calls, offensive fouls-- 31% of Bledsoe’s possessions conclude with a turnover, a strong indication of how far away he currently is from being a finished product.
Despite being far more explosive than almost all of the matchups he’s gone up against, Bledsoe currently struggles to get to the basket and convert at a high rate. He does not get to the free throw very much at all—averaging one attempt for every 10 minutes he plays in fact--often electing to throw up a floater from 8-10 feet out rather than initiate contact and finish strong around the rim. His percentages around the basket (41.5%) are fairly poor, and his inability to create separation from his defender and elevate from mid-range for a pull-up jumper only exacerbates this issue even more.
Defensively, Bledsoe has outstanding tools to get the job done, as his length, lateral quickness and terrific recovery speed give him a chance to contest pretty much any shot his matchup will attempt. He’s a tough, competitive guy who puts a good effort in, but tends to lose his focus from time to time, biting on pump-fakes, gambling for steals, and relaxing his stance operating off the ball. This is nothing out of the ordinary considering his youth, but is something he will need to improve on with added experience.
Despite the fact that he’s getting mentions from respected outlets such as ESPN.com as being a potential lottery pick already this year, it’s difficult to see a scenario like that actually come to fruition once teams actually dig deeper into his overall profile.
Bledsoe looks much further off from being able to contribute to an NBA team than most draft prospect point guards we typically evaluate, as he has a huge amount of holes in his game that can only be fixed by garnering experience through extensive playing time.
While there is no question that Bledsoe’s upside is extremely high, it will be likely very difficult for him to improve on his many weaknesses and make the transition to being a legit NBA point guard if he leaves college too quickly. [Read Full Article]