Through the early part of the season, Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe is looking like he'll pan out to be the star the franchise expected him to be.
Basketball experts are taking notice, and Bledsoe has earned a spot in ESPN.com's "2013-14 NBA Under-25 rankings," an Insider piece released Wednesday.
The sports empire ranked the top 25 players in the league under the age of 25, and the 24-year-old Suns guard placed 11th on the list.
Amin Elhassan, an NBA scout, had mostly good things to say about Bledsoe while pointing out a couple areas for improvement.
Off to a terrific start this season, Bledsoe's elite athleticism and explosiveness allow him to blow by most defenders, and his strong frame lets him finish through contact at the rim. He's still an inconsistent shooter from beyond the arc, and has a penchant for trying to make the flashy play instead of the safe one, but he brings good effort and energy to the court.
David Thorpe, a basketball coach who has trained many of the league's notable players, had some tough love for the former Los Angeles Clipper, perhaps a reason why Bledsoe didn't place higher on the list.
It is exciting to think about Bledsoe's overall future if he improves as a spot-up shooter. Right now he does a few things just a bit wrong; his left hand appears to be slightly too involved, his balance issues range from splitting his feet in the air to sometimes jumping forward a little too much, and he is not consistent with his extension and follow-through.
Kevin Pelton, an analytics guru, had this to say about the former Kentucky standout:
Bledsoe has dramatically cut down his turnover rate from his first two seasons, and based on similar players, he's likely to make further improvement.
Bledsoe is averaging 18.6 points, 6.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game on 47.8 percent shooting in 15 contests, including 13 starts. He is also averaging 34.1 minutes per game for the Suns -- by far the highest clip in his four-year career. He has helped Phoenix contend for the playoffs, as the team improved to 12-9 after its 114-108 win Tuesday in Los Angeles over the Lakers. The Suns are off to their best start since the 2009-10 campaign.
The top three players on ESPN's "Under-25" list are the Pelicans' Anthony Davis, Pacers' Paul George and Pistons' Andre Drummond, respectively.