Just 13 games into the 2010 NBA season, we’ve already learned a few things about the Los Angeles Clippers.
At 1-12, they may not be quite ready to make that leap into the mighty Western Conference playoffs.
However, they may have (finally) found their true point guard of the future.
Clipperland, meet Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe, 20, spent just one season at the University of Kentucky, where he was almost completely overshadowed by some dude named John Wall. You may have heard of him.
Still, the 6’1″ guard averaged 11.3 points in just over 30 minutes per game; playing most of the time at shooting guard, away from his natural position on-the-ball.
He was selected 18th overall in the draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, before promptly being shipped to Los Angeles in exchange for a future first-round pick.
Without much time to shine on his own on the national stage in college, what were we supposed to expect from this guy? As a rookie, it would’ve been ill-advised to expect much (if anything) from him.
However, Bledsoe has been thrust into duty due to injuries to the top two Clipper point men, Baron Davis and Randy Foye.
Without much of a choice, Vinny Del Negro was essentially forced to throw Bledsoe to the wolves and see what he could do.
As we stand now, how can anyone not be pleased with what Bledsoe has done?
He’s averaging 9.9 points, 5.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while turning the ball over nearly four times per game.
While the turnover numbers are too high for a starting NBA point guard, these are typical growing pains that come with being a rookie expected to lead your unit.
Despite his height a tad on the shorter side, Bledsoe is built like a bull, ironically similar to Baron Davis.
He’s an absolute blur with the ball in his hands, and he plays with a fearlessness that is rarely seen in a first-year player.
Bledsoe isn’t afraid to push the tempo. He isn’t afraid to attack the rim.
It almost seems as though he knows what to do with the ball before he gets it. He uses his slashing ability very well, as evidenced by his having taken just 15 three-pointers in 13 games played this season.
He also isn’t afraid to take a chance on defense.
In fact, his build and quickness combine to make him an extremely pesky on-the-ball defender; a quality that should continue to improve as his career progresses.
So, what happens to Bledsoe’s minutes once Davis and Foye are set to return full-time?
Davis has played in just four games so far this season, and is expected to be held out until after Thanksgiving with a knee injury that has been nagging him since before the season began.
Foye has played in just three games this year, and had to leave Thursday’s loss to Indiana after just six minutes due to re-aggravating his hamstring injury.
Davis, 31, is the highest-paid Clipper, and is still owed nearly $42 million over the next three seasons, including this one.
Foye, 27, is making just under $4.5 million over each of the next two seasons, and, along with Ryan Gomes, was brought in over the summer as a free agent.
Can your highest-paid and biggest-name player really be your backup point guard?
The Clippers may not be winning much these days, but a solid foundation for the future seems to be there.
Oh, Vinny! You’ve got some thinking to do!
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.