New Orleans Pelicans: Eric Bledsoe’s role and future in question

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Eric Bledsoe
De’Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings is defended by Eric Bledsoe #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans need more from Eric Bledsoe.

25 games into his Pelicans career, Eric Bledsoe has been a disappointment. More worryingly, there are no signs that his situation will improve any time soon.

The Pelicans traded for Bledsoe in the summer as part of the four-team deal that sent longtime fan favorite Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks. The hopes were that Bledsoe could embody new head coach Stan Van Gundy’s defensive ethos, fit in as a sort of like-for-like replacement for Holiday, and help propel the Pelicans to the playoffs by continuing his streak of good regular seasons.

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Bledsoe’s performances regularly tanked in the playoffs with Milwaukee and he was particularly ridiculed after an ice-cold postseason last year; however, it’s easy to forget how well he complemented Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Bledsoe’s regular seasons with the Bucks were always solid-to-good and he was even mentioned in all-star conversations at times.

It was easy to imagine Bledsoe fitting in nicely in New Orleans alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Williamson is comparable to Antetokounmpo in many ways, particularly their generational athleticism, knack for attacking the basket, and hesitant outside shot. Ingram is also a forward in the mold of Middleton: long and rangy, can handle the ball, play in pick-and-roll, and create his own shot from every area of the floor.

But instead of enhancing the Pelicans’ franchise stars, Bledsoe has struggled to carve out a role for himself. He has not been helped by the Pelicans’ roster construction or Van Gundy’s style of play, but Bledsoe also hasn’t held up his end of the bargain.

Pelicans fans growing tired of Bledsoe’s inconsistency have called for him to be moved to the bench unit or have his minutes taken by one of Kira Lewis Jr. or Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Others are advocating for him to be traded, but a solution to Bledsoe’s woes may not be so simple.