Eric Bledsoe not a franchise player quite yet, according to Phoenix Suns’ Lon Babby

Nov 14, 2013, 10:37 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2013, 9:25 pm
LISTEN: Lon Babby, Suns president of basketball operations

Eric Bledsoe is already looking like the breakout player NBA prognosticators expected him to be when he joined the Phoenix Suns, and his team is off to a better-than-expected 5-3 start.

The four-year combo guard is averaging 21.1 points, 7.1 assists, 1.8 steals and is shooting 51.4 percent in eight games with the Suns.

Although Bledsoe is looking like he’ll become a surefire star in the league, Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby hesitated to call him a franchise player Thursday while on Arizona Sports 620’s The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta.

“Well, he’s 23 years old and he’s certainly talented enough. I think we look at him more as he’s an important part of our core going forward,” Babby said. “Where he is in the precise pecking order remains to be seen, and it depends on who else we have here. He’s certainly a valuable, important piece of our team going forward.

“In the short amount of time he’s been here, he’s ingratiated himself — not only to the community, but to everybody within the organization. And he’s been everything we would have hoped for at this point.”

Bledsoe is one of the players who Babby said has bought into head coach’s Jeff Hornacek’s system, and the results of that chemistry is already showing on the court.

“We’ve got a group of players that are individually first-rate, in terms of quality of their character,” Babby said. “And as a group, they’ve embraced each other.”

For a season that was supposed to be chalked up to getting a good draft pick, the Suns have looked quite competent on the court, and Babby, who joined the organization in 2010, said fans shouldn’t be upset with the team’s early success.

“We’ve made a number of moves to get younger, get more athletic, gain more assets — and this is going back a couple of years and accelerated this summer,” he said. “And now you put that group together, and if the coaching staff does a terrific job and the players develop more quickly than maybe people expected, I can’t fathom how that’s a negative. And if it effects our draft status, it just simply means our team has progressed a little bit more quickly than might otherwise have been the case.”

Babby said the franchise is trying to develop a culture of winning and hard work, and that he’s not overly surprised by the early season success. The team was looking competitive going back to Summer League and preseason, he said.

“(They’re) proving to themselves that if you work hard every night, you can win a lot of games in this league just really on effort,” he said. “I don’t spend a lot of time trying to defend it, because you get criticized for losing, and now you’re going to get criticized for winning?”

Babby encouraged fans to embrace the Suns as they stand now, not just after when they draft or sign a star player.

“The next great Suns team is beginning now,” he proclaimed. “We’re in our embryonic stages, but it’s beginning now, and I think it’s just that much more gratifying if you watch that growth over this year and the years to come.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game against the Houston Rockets at Target...
Jake Anderson

Josh Okogie agrees to 1-year deal with Phoenix Suns, per report

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent wing Josh Okogie, according to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania.
1 day ago
Jock Landale #34 of the San Antonio Spurs drives against Willy Hernangomez #9 of the New Orleans Pe...
Jake Anderson

Report: Phoenix Suns trading for Atlanta Hawks center Jock Landale

The Phoenix Suns are trading for Atlanta Hawks center Jock Landale, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
1 day ago
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts during Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round ...
Alex Weiner

The Athletic’s Hollinger: Suns trade for Kevin Durant likely needs 3rd team

NBA analyst John Hollinger devised 10 Kevin Durant trades, and the Phoenix Suns option became one of the more complex.
1 day ago
Bismack Biyombo #18 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center o...
Kellan Olson

Report: Bismack Biyombo agrees to re-sign with Phoenix Suns

Unrestricted free agent Bismack Biyomba agreed to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns Saturday morning, according to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. 
1 day ago
Damion Lee #1 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after a three point basket in the first half ...
Jake Anderson

Damion Lee agrees to 1-year deal with Phoenix Suns, per report

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent wing Damion Lee, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
2 days ago
Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the second half of Game 6 of the Western Conferenc...
Associated Press

Rudy Gobert traded by Utah Jazz to Minnesota Timberwolves, per reports

The Utah Jazz are reportedly trading three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
2 days ago
Eric Bledsoe not a franchise player quite yet, according to Phoenix Suns’ Lon Babby