The Clippers have been at the center of many trade rumors during the deadline season, and many of those have focused on point guard Eric Bledsoe. The third-year player out of Kentucky is playing the best basketball of his career, and ranks in the top 10 of the league's points guards, according to advanced statistics.
Steve Perrin of Clippers blog Clips Nation took a look at some numbers put out by ESPN's Kevin Pelton measuring Bledsoe's performance. Those stats show that L.A. may have two of the league's best on their roster, and the the team's struggles when Chris Paul was out with injury only strengthen that argument:
The most interesting data comes from the 12 games where Bledsoe was the Clippers starting point guard. Given that the Clippers went 6-6 in those games, the first impression is that there was a significant drop off from Paul to Bledsoe, which let's face it, isn't exactly a major knock on Bledsoe given that Paul is a serious MVP candidate. However, Pelton looks deeper into the data and finds that the starting unit was more or less equally effective in Bledsoe's 12 starts as when Paul is starting -- but the productivity of the of the second unit fell off the table when Grant Hill replaced Bledsoe on that team. This more or less matches what we in Clips Nation know from observation during those games -- I think we would have concluded that the starters dropped off some, but the real issue was definitely the bench that went from best in the league to dreadful overnight. In this light, the relatively lackluster performance by the Clippers during Bledsoe's 12 starts isn't an indictment of his value, but rather an additional endorsement -- he did fine as a starter, but losing him totally devastated the second team.
As Perrin points out, Bledsoe is eighth in PER (efficiency) among NBA points guards and ninth in WARP (wins above replacement). He is posting career highs in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, assist percentage, usage, steal percentage, block percentage, and offensive rating. Bledsoe is also enjoying a career-low turnover percentage.
Bledsoe appears to be on the rise, as he is still only 23 years old. He appears ready for a chance at a starting job, and the Clippers want to make sure they get something in return. Judging by these advanced numbers, they deserve plenty for the budding star.