Eric Bledsoe is proving his worth with Clippers
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bledsoe wants Chris Paul back on the floor as much as anyone in the Los Angeles Clippers organization.
Paul is, after all, a mentor and friend to the younger Bledsoe – not to mention the epicenter of all that is good for this team that enters Thursday night’s game at Minnesota with the second-best record in the Western Conference (30-9).
But while Paul continues to recover from a deep knee bruise that has forced him to miss the last two games and is expected to keep him out against the Timberwolves, no one could blame Bledsoe if he was secretly hoping that Paul takes his time in returning. He’s not alone in that regard, either, as this is the sort of unofficial, starring-role audition that rival teams were hoping to see for one of the league’s most dynamic under-the-radar talents.
As the Feb. 21 trade deadline looms, the third-year point guard out of Kentucky is expected to attract serious attention from rival teams that are already convinced he could be their starting point guard. But being teammates with Paul and venerable veteran Chauncey Billups means there will be more time spent in the shadows than the spotlight – until now.
This is the sort of consistent playing time Bledsoe has been lacking since Paul came to the Clippers via trade New Orleans in Dec. 2011, and he’s made the most of it while leading the Clippers to road wins over Memphis (14 points, four rebounds, three assists) and Houston (19 points, seven rebounds, five assists). He was already the benefactor of an injury, as Billups has played in just three games this season and is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
Bledsoe, a relentless defender who was nicknamed “Mini LeBron” for his remarkable athleticism and versatility, is averaging 8.8 points, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game while playing just 18.8 minutes per. He has become a YouTube favorite for the most ardent of NBA fans, with his most viewed highlights from this season including a high-flying, backpedaling block of Miami’s Dwyane Wade on a dunk attempt on Nov. 14 and a … [For more on Eric Bledsoe is proving his worth with Clippers, click here.]