It’s hard to understand what direction David Griffin and the New Orleans Pelicans front office has for the team at this moment. Last year Griffin made a plethora of splashy moves, many of which he has reversed this off-season. No player personnel move in the Griffin era has been worse than the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe.
In 2019 the Bucks signed Bledsoe to a four-year deal worth $70 million, with his base salary increasing annually. This deal was perplexing when it happened, considering it was on the heels of the point guard averaging just 13 points per game during the Bucks playoff run on 41/23/70 shooting splits.
It only took Milwaukee a year to see the error in their ways and was able to package Bledsoe with a haul of first-round picks to acquire Jrue Holiday. Holiday was the clear-cut better player of the two, but he didn’t mesh with New Orleans young core, and change was needed.
New Orleans Pelicans: Eric Bledsoe was not the answer
Optimistic Pelicans’ fans had faith that a change of scenery could provide a much-needed boost to Bledsoe’s play and provide valuable veteran minutes. Everyone soon realized no scene could fix Bledsoe’s flaws.
For the first 10 years of his career, Bledsoe was the primary ball-handler when he was on the court. It was a role with which he was familiar and, at points, successful with. That’s why the fit never made sense. He was never to be trusted over his more talented peers with the ball in his hands.
Although it was never fully unlocked in New Orleans, Lonzo Ball is one of the most gifted facilitators in the league. When Zion Williamson was the primary ball-handler, he looked virtually unstoppable. Brandon Ingram is a stud on the offensive end as well.
That left Bledsoe to play most of his minutes off the ball. Predictably, it was a disaster.
Last season Bledsoe had his lowest field goal percentage since 2011 while attempting his fewest shot attempts since 2012. His abysmal shooting carried over to the free-throw line, where he shot an awful 68.7%. It’s hard to justify a player being such liability from the charity stripe when they can’t knock down shots or play defense at a high clip.
In today’s game, guards need to be proficient from beyond the arc. Bledsoe lacked that trait too. On 5 attempts a game, he made just 34% of shots from downtown.
It’s mind-boggling that with his struggles and lack of cohesion with his teammates that Bledsoe started 70 games this past season. This directly blocked opportunity for younger guards on the roster that possessed far more talent, such as Kira Lewis and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
When taking a step back, it’s hard to pinpoint what area of the game Bledsoe was sufficient in for the team last season. He’s always been a solid defender but routinely took plays off and seemed to struggle against guards with quick first steps.
Though the Eric Bledsoe experience was short, it’s one fans of the New Orleans Pelicans would like to forget. Giving others his minutes will allow that time not to be as empty as when Bledsoe was on the court. New Orleans did a good job ridding themselves of him now, so they can move on and have brighter days because of it.