In last’s week’s “You’re The GM” we had a close contest between Western Conference All-Stars Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. It wasn’t too close however, and personally I was a little surprised that Aldridge pushed away at the end to take the title a little too comfortably. Surely Love’s skill set rivals anybody else’s in the league? In any event we’re back again this week, and this instalment will certainly pique your interest if you’re a Phoenix Suns fan. The Suns have been the surprise package of the season, pushing for a playoff birth in the West when most saw them as a team that would struggle to piece together 30 wins. It has been a team effort, and a special mention must be given here to Gerald Green, who is having a stellar year for the club. But the reality is this team is not in the hunt if not for the exciting guard combo of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Together they have taken the league by storm, but if you could only take one, who would it be?
As a point guard who spent his first three years with the then upcoming Los Angeles Clippers, fans are no strangers to Bledsoe’s ability. Although at one stage thought to be the an important piece in their rebuild, the addition of Chris Paul was always going to make the 24-year-old expendable. This did happen, but not before the former Kentucky player could learn from the best point guard in the NBA. With that chip on his shoulder of being deemed moveable, it is no wonder Bledsoe has been a success. What makes it even more extraordinary though, is the fact he is doing all of this damage from the shooting guard position. As somebody who needed the rock while a Clipper to be a threat, this transformation in itself is remarkable. Many thought that bringing together Bledsoe and Dragic, two point guards who required the ball often, was a recipe for disaster. It is because of Bledsoe’s maturity and ability to change his game to suit the team that this has not been the case. Consider this; before this season Bledsoe’s career average points per game was 8.5. Now it is 17. Perhaps even more impressive, he is having his best year distributing the ball and raking up assists, even though he doesn’t see the ball nearly as often. His 5.8 assists isn’t huge, but considering his previous best is 3.6 his rookie year, it is actually quite the improvement. Statistically this is his best rebounding year as well, and now suddenly we are talking about this guy like he could actually be the most improved player in the league this year. While he is unlikely to win that award, he should at least be in the conversation. His offensive rating (111 per 100 possessions) and defensive rating (106) are both as high as they have ever been too. The concern however, is injury. Although he has recently returned, a torn meniscus in his right knee has limited him to just 25 games this season. The injury did require surgery, and these days there is always the concern that their will be a relapse or a flair up unexpectedly. For now though, Bledsoe is back and ready to try and get the Suns into the playoffs once more. Helping them to achieve that would surely be the greatest achievement of his young career to date.
It has been a long and winding road filled with ups and downs, but Goran Dragic is a Sun once more. The 27-year-old started his career here, before playing in Houston and overseas with Saski Baskonia in Spain during the lockout shortened season. This time however, unlike before, Dragic is unquestionably the starting point guard for this team, and how he has repaid their faith already. The very definition of an All-Star snub this year, it is hard to believe he didn’t make it down to New Orleans to play, he’s been that good. A career high in points at 20.1, his six assists a game are not as good as the 7.4 he dished last year, but are not to be laughed at either. With running mate Bledsoe feeding others the ball on occasion as well Dragic’s assists were always going to suffer. Still though, he is responsible for assisting 29 percent of teammates points when on the court, which means he is indirectly responsible for nearly a third of his team’s points when on the court. This doesn’t included the aforementioned 20 he averages himself either. What this means is that Dragic is big for this club. Ironically though, it was the injury of Bledsoe that really highlighted how good Dragic is. Before Bledsoe went down, the team was eight games above .500 and had won 10 of their last 12. Many thought the Cinderella story would end there, but with Dragic turning in star turns almost every night, the team stood at a healthy 37-25 upon Bledsoe’s return. Whether they can make the playoffs or not remains to be seen, but Dragic in particular has ensured that it is still a possibility. His exciting style of play is great to watch, and the way he can squirm and contort himself going to the paint makes him a constant threat. Of course he can bomb away from outside too, this guy is no stranger to splashing threes. Dragic always looked the kind of player who could make a big impact given the chance. It is only now that the chance has come though, and he has taken it with both hands.
This isn’t an easy one to call, both have contributed massively to the success story that is the Phoenix Suns. Dragic has been the star, but Bledsoe’s energy and presence around the team cannot be discounted either. Also when healthy he has contributed on the floor as much as anybody else. Being three years younger the Dragic too means his ceiling is possibly higher. Me personally, I’m taking Dragic. He is a great floor general who has done it all for his team this season. Bledsoe has changed his game for the team of course and this is a remarkable trait to have. Dragic did a lot of heavy lifting alone though, and that is perhaps the trump card here. But what do you think? Let us know in the comment section below, or on twitter @LucaLockheart. As always, the player with the most votes makes the cut!