Now that the NBA Draft Lottery is out of the way, it's time to start profiling the Pacers possibilities for 1st Round picks. The profiles will follow the same format as my 2nd Rounders, with a little bit more detail.
The Pacers received the 10th pick in the Lottery, but several possibilities for trading down and/or acquiring multiple picks have been floating around. For that reason I'm going to examine anyone who might help the Pacers, and then discuss within the profile any steps which might need to be taken to acquire that player.
We have just over a month until the draft, so I'll try to get a profile out every day or two. Here's who we'll be looking at today:
Eric Bledsoe - PG/SG - 6' 1.5" 192lbs. - University of Kentucky
- Bledsoe has remarkable physical tools. He stands 6' 1.5" in shoes with a 6' 7.5" wingspan, both very good measurements for an NBA point guard. Although he didn't participate in the athletic tests at the combine, he is clearly one of the quickest players in the draft with an explosive vertical leap.
- Bledsoe's speed and quickness make him a terrific penetrator and electric in the open court. Because of his role with Kentucky last year, most of his penetration ended with him shooting as opposed to looking for open teammates. He had some highlight reel finishes, but can become a much more consistent finisher. Hopefully, using his penetration to set up open shots for others is a skill that can be further developed.
- Bledsoe was excellent as a spot-up shooter last year, making 38.3% of his three pointers.
- He has all the physical tools to be a terrific defender. He uses his length and quickness to provide excellent on-ball pressure on the perimeter. He occasionally gets lost when defending off the ball, something that should improve with experience.
- Bledsoe has the physical profile of a point guard, but has yet to prove that he has the skill set to play that position.
- Bledsoe admittedly played out of position this season to make room for John Wall. But even playing at shooting guard he did very little to indicate he has future as a full time point guard. Bledsoe had more turnovers than assists this season. He turned the ball over 4.0 times per 40 minutes, only 6 other draft prospects turned the ball over more frequently. He posted a Pure Point Rating significantly in the negative. The scariest number is his ratio of TO/Pos, 0.27. This mean he essentially turned the ball over on a quarter of the possesions he used. This is the highest such ratio of any of the draft prospects at any position.
- While showing excellent potential with his dribble penetration, Bledsoe could do a much better job of drawing fouls in the paint. He also will need to improve his free throw shooting significantly.
- There are some concerns about his jumpshot form. He doesn't get much lift on his jumper, and has a very slow release. Many of his shots last season were wide open looks created by John Wall's penetration, or double teams on DeMarcus Cousin and Patrick Patterson. He may not get the same quality looks in the NBA and may need to tweak his mechanics to get his shot off quicker. He also rarely shot jumpers besides in spot up situations. He will need to work on his ability to shoot off the dribble, especially if he will be playing minutes at point guard.
- The NCAA is reportedly investigating Bledsoe for potential monetary and acacemic violations. While this has no bearing on his ability to play in the NBA, it may raise some potential character concerns.
How he can help the Pacers -
- It's no secret that the Pacers need help at point guard, and after John Wall there aren't many prospects more intriguing than Eric Bledsoe. A pick of Bledsoe is certainly a pick based on potential and upside. His college numbers are much worse from a passing perspective than some of the other college combo guards who have transitioned successfully to the point in the pros (Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, etc.) But that doesn't mean he can't develop those skills and make the leap. He has the physical tools to be an impact player at any level.
- Barring a trade, T.J. Ford will likely enter next season as the starting point guard; with a chance to lose the job for the third straight season. Back-up point guard minutes would be available to Bledsoe right away as A.J. Price recovers from his knee injury. Both Price and Bledsoe are good enough shooters, that when both are healthy, they could potentially play in the backcourt together. Bledsoe's wingspan and quickness could give him a chance to be effective defending some shooting guards in these small-ball lineups.
- Even if Bledsoe doesn't develop into a point guard, he has the capability to be an electric scoring spark off the bench and an extremely effective defender. The Pacers desperately need some back court players capable of getting their own shot, and could use an athleticism upgrade across the board. Bledsoe fits the bill in both categories.
- Views on his draft stock vary greatly. If the Pacers are able to work a trade scenario and move down to acquire multiple picks, there is a good chance Bledsoe will be available in the #15 - 25 range. If they fall in love with him during his workout today the team could definitely just take him at #10.
More Information -
- Eric Bledsoe Draftexpress Profile
- Eric Bledsoe ESPN Draft Card
- Eric Bledsoe NBADraft.net Player Card
- Hickory High's Eric Bledsoe Analysis Part 1 - Part 2 (Also written by me)