Suns’ Eric Bledsoe aiming for playoffs in 2016-17
Eric Bledsoe is entering his fourth year with Phoenix, making him the second most tenured player on the roster.
He’s still looking for his first playoff appearance as a Sun.
“I definitely envision us competing at a very high level, getting one of the playoff spots,” he told Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday, speaking on the upcoming year. “I’m looking forward to getting back on the floor playing with my teammates. That’s the most exciting part of the game for me is going out there and competing.”
Bledsoe missed out on significant playing time last year when a torn meniscus limited him to just 31 games. In that abbreviated season, he averaged 20.4 points, 4 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. In his career with the Suns, he’s averaging 17.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists.
When asked about his individual goals, Bledsoe still looked toward the postseason.
“If we win as a team, everybody looks good.”
The Suns finished 23-59 last year under eventual head coach Earl Watson, who was originally named as an interim replacement for the dismissed Jeff Hornacek. With more hype now surrounding the Suns’ future than their upcoming season, a difficult campaign last year hasn’t sold national pundits on the 2016-17 Suns.
“[Last season] was tough for me, but at the same time, it was fun,” Bledsoe said. “Devin (Booker) started playing tremendous. Tyson (Chandler), he looked like he was young back in his days getting double doubles every night. Alex (Len) emerged. Archie (Goodwin) played well. Brandon (Knight) came back and played unbelievable. It was exciting to watch.”
That same core is back this year, and so is Watson. He was named the team’s official head coach earlier this offseason.
“Earl, he’s related to us, all the guys on the team,” Bledsoe said. “Not only just the players but the staff, the video guys, and everybody. To help with me reaching my full potential and everyone else on the team as well, he just gives everybody the confidence and the motivation to reach your full potential. Whatever he’s doing, he’s doing a great job.”
The Suns recently brought alumni Jared Dudley and Leandro Barbosa back to the roster. Dudley played in Phoenix from 2008 to 2013, while Barbosa is twice a former Sun, playing from 2003 to 2010 and again in 2013-14.
Their leadership and familiarity with the organization and league could guide new draftees and still-developing youngsters like Booker or Len.
“Of course. It’s big because Barbosa has had a lot of success and he’s a great team player, the younger guys look up watching him play,” Bledsoe said. “Jared’s the same way, Jared is a great guy to have around. It’s not always going out and getting the best guys all the time, it has to do with who gets the team sometimes, as well.”