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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Bledsoe

Greg Monroe for Eric Bledsoe would be a solid S&T for both teams

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It’s late August and Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe are still not signed, which is turning into a mess for Detroit and Phoenix. Either Monroe or Bledsoe taking the qualifying offer is the worst case scenario for both teams, as if they walked in unrestricted free agency they wouldn’t receive value in return for their asset.

I like the idea of just swapping Monroe and Bledsoe personally, even if this idea seems unlikely due to the lack of momentum in the press about it.

Detroit’s end

The Pistons suddenly teaming up Eric Bledsoe and Andre Drummond’s elite athleticism would give them an exciting direction going forward. In the drafts since acquiring Drummond, they took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013 and had to surrender their lottery pick to Charlotte in 2014. Although I’m a big fan of their 2014 2nd round pick Spencer Dinwiddie, they’re lacking the supporting young talent to go around Drummond. Getting it through trade with Bledsoe may be the direction to go.

The argument against is fit, as Detroit has Brandon Jennings 2 year 16.3 million contract, which is already one of the most unmoveable contracts in the league, a situation that would get worse if backing up Bledsoe. Presumably giving Bledsoe the max contract he wants could also scare them for the same reason it did Phoenix, because of some injury issues so far in his career.

Nevertheless, Jennings problem is a short term problem. Within a year it’s an expiring deal and easy to move on from. Jennings and Bledsoe may also be able to share time in a small backcourt, like Dragic and Bledsoe did this year in Phoenix. I see it as the right move to grab the talent upgrade in Bledsoe and wait for the opportunity to move on from the Joe Dumars mistakes Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons won’t be rebuilt in a day and don’t have to be a perfect fit immediately. Yet with Bledsoe and Drummond along with pieces like Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the pieces seem in place. It would also make the Pistons expected to make the playoffs next year, which may be important to ownership after disappointing seasons lately.

Phoenix’s end

There’s a few reasons why Phoenix may be lukewarm on this deal. First Monroe is not a perfect fit as they have two young centers in Alex Len and Miles Plumlee who’d move down the depth chart, with Len’s minutes especially unguaranteed. In the meantime however Monroe starting at C beside Markieff Morris is an upgrade, giving them passing and post skills to compliment Phoenix’s perimeter penetrating and shooting skills. Some minutes could be opened up for Plumlee and Len by playing Monroe at power forward in some matchups.

Financially Monroe may be asking for upwards of 11 or 12 million to do this deal for a player who’s game has stagnated in recent years. For his strengths like post scoring, ability to drive past defenders with ballhandling skills and passing, he neither spaces the floor especially well or provides defensive impact, a combination that is scary in the modern game. Monroe is a poor man’s Al Jefferson or Zach Randolph, the question as he goes into his prime is whether that’s still enough to pay a premium contract.

However, signing Monroe to a long term deal may also give Phoenix some needed stability. The core of their team last year in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe is in doubt long term. In addition to their Bledsoe issues, because Dragic is so underpaid right now, the Suns can’t offer him an extension high enough for him to consider taking – Toronto faced a similar dilemma with Kyle Lowry last year. Although Dragic clearly likes Phoenix enough for him to return there last time he was a free agent, it’s never easy to see a player enter unrestricted free agency where any matter of large offers from contenders could be thrown at him. Toronto was able to have a division winning, franchise record season, promising Lowry a slew of winning seasons in upcoming years. Phoenix is in danger of becoming an also-ran non-playoff team next year, making it less appealing to Dragic. By trading for an established player like Monroe instead of S&Ting Bledsoe for draft picks or young players, it may help them resign Dragic next year, or give them a fallback option of an Isaiah Thomas-Greg Monroe core to rebuild with if he leaves.

Although it depends on what Phoenix’s other offers for Bledsoe are, I’d say you can certainly do worse than acquiring a starting big in Greg Monroe and then going from there.

For now this trade is a fantasy, but I’d say for both it’s certainly preferable to their player taking a qualifying offer.

Written by jr.

August 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Two breakout players for whom I’m not drinking the kool-aid: Eric Bledsoe and Tristan Thompson

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Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11

Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve followed this blog you know that I have my own talent evaluation system, based on grading players 1/3 on tools that physically impact the game, 1/3 tools that impact the game through a skill level (mostly shooting) and 1/3 what is commonly referred to as feel for the game, a relative but not duplicate of basketball IQ. (The problem with using “basketball IQ” is that players with a strong feel for the game may play stupid for reasons that aren’t related to talent – instead originating from character flaws like selfishness, nerves, etc. Feel for the Game is a slightly more innate and talent based term)

If I’m correct, I should be able to use this talent evaluating system to pick out the “small sample size tricksters”. Over the years there’s been plenty of players who’ve “broken out” and put up near star numbers, but only for a short period of time. Eventually a combination of natural regression and teams’ scouting catches up to them and they fall back to being the frustrating players they were before. Most players can play well for a time, but much less can keep it up consistently.

This year there are two players that have played great in bursts statistically, who don’t pass the sniff test to me: Eric Bledsoe and Tristan Thompson. Bledsoe came flying out of the gate over the 20 PER mark, while he’s slowed down since then his overall stats of 18.3 PER and 15.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per 36 minutes, is excellent for a 3rd year guard who just turned 23. After flatlining for the frst season and a half of his career, Tristan Thompson averaged 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds a game in January, extremely impressive for a player who’s just 21. Enough for many to say he may go 2nd in the 2011 draft if redone today. Both players have people whispering about all-star upside. After all, if they’re impressive this much at a young age, they can only go up from here right? Not so fast. While it’s more fun to believe every player and high draft pick is a star in the making, the reality is the majority of them don’t break free of the peloton.

Breaking them down, first off both grade well in regards to physically impacting plays. Bledsoe is a marvel of a physical talent, with an elite combination of blinding speed and hulking strength, allowing him to get to the rim at will and allowing him to disrupt the game defensively. If he’s not in Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and John Wall’s class in regards to making plays with his physical tools for a PG (He lacks their size), he’s just a step behind. Tristan on the other hand has excellent explosiveness for a big man, allowing him to attack the basket. While playing C as he has since Anderson Varejao went down, he gives up size but contains speed that’s even harder to stop by the competition. Tristan isn’t amazing at physical impact talent like Bledsoe is, but we’ll call him above average at either PF or C.

What I don’t like about either player is their feel for the game. Bledsoe is one of those players who seems like he’s playing “too fast”, exploding with a head of steam to the basket without the control to probe the game or make decisions on the fly. Bledsoe is like a bucking horse that’s hard to reel in, which draws comparisons to Russell Westbrook – another player who’s feel for the game I consider below average for the point guard position. Tristan Thompson likewise is rough around the edges for a big man. He often can look robotic and stiff and rough around the edges, instead of a natural and smooth player on the offensive end. Both players make reading and probing the game look hard instead of easy.

That leaves plays created by skill. Eric Bledsoe was awful shooting the ball his first two seasons in the league, but has improved this year under the tutelage of Chris Paul. His 3pt shooting of 36.4% is average instead of poor, albeit it’s on a small sample size of 44 attempts this year. He still lacks a midrange game, with hoopdata indicating he’s shooting 26.0% from 16-23 feet and 36.4% from 10-15 feet. Most encouraging is his FT% jumping to 81.3%, though once again a sample size of 96 attempts is rather small. Bledsoe is certainly not a player that is trusting as a shooter or jumpshot creator from midrange or from 3 and is likely left open for most of his 3pt attempts. He looks to be headed to somewhere between average and below average for plays created by skill for a PG, in my opinion. As for Thompson, while lacks ability in the post or shooting range, he does have superb hands and an array of ways to finish around the basket and is an impressive ballhandler for a big man. I would say Tristan Thompson’s skill level is around average for a power forward, but above average for a center.

Considering this, it’s hard for me to justify grading them as all-star talents. On my scale of 1 to 11 (with 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 as possible grades), I would give Bledsoe a grade of 9 in physical impact talent, 3 in skill impact talent and 3 in feel for the game based on the above analysis, for an overall grade of 15, which grades out as a relevant career, but only a borderline starting caliber player. Scores of about 19 and above is what I consider “blue chip” starting caliber players, while scores of around 23 and above is when players become perennial all-star caliber talents. Bledsoe’s best chance to be a break through to that blue chip starter to all-star caliber range is for his shooting and perimeter skill game to take great leaps forward, to where it’s decidedly a weapon. When added to his amazing athleticism, this would make him a vicious combination of slashing and perimeter shooting, enough to be a near star even with an underwhelming feel for the game. Russell Westbrook would be the model to follow for Bledsoe here. I do not like Westbrook’s feel for the game any more than Bledsoe’s, but the combination of his all time great physical tools for his position and respectable shooting stroke still make him a blue chip player. The player who’s career Bledsoe might end up resembling most is Devin Harris, who like him was a supersub on an elite team while in Dallas, before going to his own squad in New Jersey. Harris actually a spectacular all-star season his first year in New Jersey, but both his dramatic fall-off since and my personal evaluation of his talent tell me that year was somewhat of a fluke, probably let on by teams not catching up scouting report wise to him yet. Harris to me has an unimpressive feel for the game and inconsistent perimeter skill level, so despite a dynamic ability to penetrate and attack the basket, in my opinion it’s not enough.

My grades for Tristan Thompson assuming his long term position is PF, is 7 in physical impact talent, 5 in skill impact talent and 3 in feel for the game. (At center he has a more impressive skill level but gives a bit back physically.) Like Bledsoe this gives him a grade of 15, making him a useful talent but not a standout starter or all-star. Like Bledsoe if he has any chance of breaking out to that blue chipper status, it’s if his skill game can make a huge leap upward for the position, which would happen with Tristan developing a Carlos Boozer-like perimeter jumpshot and skill game. My guess though is Tristan ends up having a career resembling Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries, energy big men who’s athleticism and decent ability to score (both have better jumpshots than Tristan is likely to develop, but Tristan has better touch and ball-handling) helped them carve out nice careers, but as players more suited to be a signature backup big man on a great team.

Written by jr.

February 2, 2013 at 4:17 am