Once the regular season ended, 16 NBA GMs had their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that will be counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So with March Madness over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro continues profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Virginia Commonwealth’s Larry Sanders, so now we’re on to Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe.
Player Comparisons: Baron Davis, Keyon Dooling and Kyle Lowry
After being overshadowed by John Wall for the entire collegiate season, Eric Bledsoe will get a chance to show scouts his best asset at the NBA Draft Combine. Bledsoe has above-average athleticism and having him in the open court is a nightmare for any opposing team. His speed and length are the reason why he drew comparisons to Rajon Rondo in high school, despite the differences in their games. Bledsoe’s freakish 6-6 wingspan and speed project well for him defensively in the NBA. Despite being 6-1, one will find Bledsoe on the receiving end of alley-oops or getting a put-back dunk often. He has the body and athleticism of an NBA point guard, but the question is, does he have the skills of one?
Not every team has a play-making point guard. Guys like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Rondo are hard to find these days. Let’s face it, Bledsoe may never be that type of play-making point guard. Every time that Wall needed a breather, Bledsoe clearly could not distribute the ball as well as him. This is partially due to his lack of court vision and poor decision making. Who knows, had Bledsoe been the full-time point guard for Kentucky, maybe we would not be saying this about his game. However, three turnovers per game speaks for itself. In terms of scoring, there is a lot to like. He proved to a good shooter after shooting 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three-point land. Slashers are always better when complemented by a jump shot.
The point guard position is one where you need experienced players in order to get further in the playoffs. Having barely played point guard in college brings up major question marks. Can Bledsoe handle the point? Is he too small to play shooting guard but not skilled enough to play point guard? These question marks both worry and intrigue NBA GMs. Does Bledsoe have hidden skills that we do not know about? We kow he was capable of scoring in the SEC, but so was Devan Downey. We do not hear NBA scouts raving about Downey, do we? Since Bledsoe is one of the biggest enigmas in this year’s draft pool, he will be drafted solely on potential, not instant impact. Another year of college would have been nice, but there is risk in that too. Just look at Willie Warren.
In many cases, the best way for high-upside pick to reach their potential is to learn tricks of the trade from veterans. A contending team would be a nice place to land, but there are also rebuilding teams with veterans. He could be anything from a lead guard to a scoring combo guard off of a team’s bench. He has a long way to go, but if Bledsoe puts in the work needed to become a full time point guard, he could be a star-caliber player.
Best Fit: Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Conley has not been the point guard that the Grizzlies anticipated they were drafting. At best, Conley has been a solid floor general. The Grizzlies should look to replicate the way Milwaukee rotated Luke Ridnour and Brandon Jennings with Conley and Bledsoe. The two can play different styles and together on the court. When they want to speed the game up, they could play Bledsoe. When they want to slow it down, they could play Conley. It would be the perfect place for Bledsoe to get the right amount of minutes yet be on a good team.
Runner-up: Orlando Magic
This team does not need much at the moment, but it never hurts to add depth. With the team being set at the point guard position for now, Bledsoe might be a low-risk, high-reward player if he falls to the Magic’s 29th pick. Since Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson could possibly leave, Bledsoe may find himself in a good position. Being a back-up point guard for a contending team would be a great experience. Bledsoe could learn to find the perfect medium between combo guard and floor general. Who knows, if Bledsoe turns out to be the real deal, he could steal Nelson’s spot.
What do you think?
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