Making trades in the NBA is about finding opportunity and value.
In a trade that was reminiscent, on a lower scale, of Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s acquisition of James Harden, Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough was able to pick up Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe.
In a league with a complicated salary cap only allowing teams to pay three to four players large-scale contracts, decisions need to be made. Oklahoma City choose to build around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and not use their amnesty on Kendrick Perkins.
Morey banked on Harden, who only averaged 31 minutes and played a secondary role to Westbrook and Durant, being able to translate success in a larger role. He nailed it as the former Arizona State star blossomed into one of the top three shooting guards in the NBA along with Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant (order them anyway you want — there isn’t a correct answer).
It’s a similar situation to what McDonough is hoping for with Bledsoe, except instead of getting a franchise player, a more reasonable expectation is a game-changing guard on both ends of the floor. Give the Clippers some credit here, they weren’t being cheap, L.A. just wanted to re-invest the money in three-point shooters to surround the Chris Paul and Blake Griffin pick-and-roll. Lucky for Phoenix, this ended up benefiting them.
First, let’s establish that in this case, you can throw away any traditional or non-traditional ways you label a player. Bledsoe isn’t a point guard, shooting guard, pass or shoot-first guard, and it doesn’t matter one bit.
At the age of 23 and in his third NBA season, Bledsoe showed tremendous growth. He had his most efficient season, improved his three-point and free throw shooting and turned the ball over less despite handling it more. Currently Bledsoe is more suited to score as a finisher than a creator, but I believe he will grow into a more dynamic threat offensively in all facets.
Defensively, Bledsoe is a menace on the ball, but struggles off the ball.
This is demonstrated by the numbers when he defends point guards versus shooting guards.