NBA Rumors – Phoenix Suns Have an Elite Defender in Eric Bledsoe

Image: Source
Image: Source

After five seasons in the NBA, Eric Bledsoe still doesn’t have any All-Defensive team selections, but paying close attention to the shooting numbers he forces the best point guards in the NBA into suggests he might be deserving of one pretty soon.

Looking at the field goal percentages (from the 2014-2015 regular season) of Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and John Wall, the popular choice for best point guards in the NBA (with Bledsoe and another excellent defender, Mike Conley, usually ranked behind them) suggests that putting him as close as possible to these stars makes them immediately lose something of their shooting prowess.

Chris Paul who played with Bledsoe on the Clippers was the only one who didn’t really suffer from his proximity (the numbers are for when he is the closest defender to the shooter), shooting 47.6% with Bledsoe guarding him, only 0.9% below his season numbers.

The others weren’t as comfortable. Damian Lillard shot 42.9% from the field, only 0.5% below his season FG%, but he’s not the most accurate of shooters anyway. Stephen Curry shot 6.8% below his season numbers, held to 41.9%; John Wall’s FG% dropped by 7% to 37.5%; Kyrie Irving shot 9.3% worst than his regular season number, held to 37.5%. Russell Westbrook shot 30% with Bledsoe running next to him, 12.6% below his regular season FG%.

Obviously, any attempt to put numbers on defensive abilities has its detractions. The sample size is rather small, it might be more accurate comparing the success of rate of specific shots and not the overall FG%, and there’s such a thing as help defense. But this does give us a general idea about how good Bledsoe is defensively, and who ridiculous it was to think he wasn’t worth the money he was asking from the Suns a year ago in a saga that took a long time to solve, and now looks like a bargain.

Hat tip: Reddit and NBAsavant