The Phoenix Suns were heading into the offseason with plans to re-sign guard Eric Bledsoe no matter what, but those plans have taken a bit of a change as they are unable to get the deal that they wanted with him. Bledsoe turned down a four-year, $48 million offer from the Suns, and has been rumored to want a max deal with whoever he signs with next. It is still very possible that he ends up back in Phoenix, but the Suns are going to need to realize that they must re-sign him to continue the momentum from last season.
Why must the Suns re-sign Eric Bledsoe for their momentum to continue from last season?
Quite simply, Bledsoe is the most talented player that the Suns have on their roster. He has the potential to be a superstar and despite having health issues early on in the season last year, was one of the leaders that kept the team in playoff contention until the last game of the regular season. There are some question marks surrounding him and areas that he needs to work on, but it was obvious that he took the next step forward in his game last year.
His scoring ability was the most noticed improvement that he made, and he still has plenty of room to get better. He upped his average from 8.5 points per game in 2012-13 to 17.7 this past season. That improvement has a lot to do with his added minutes, but he also has added quite a few abilities to his game.
Phoenix fits his game perfectly, and that is another reason that the Suns should make sure to lock him up. Bledsoe worked very well alongside of Goran Dragic, and the two guards were one of the most dynamic back-courts in the league. The Suns could very well be one of the contenders in the Western Conference if they are able to hold onto Bledsoe, and despite the large contract that he is looking for, they need to figure out how important he was to their success.
Bledsoe’s playmaking ability improved immensely last season, and he has the potential to get even better in that category. Dragic is a more than capable scorer, and the Suns have plenty of other perimeter shooters as well. If the Suns put the basketball in Bledsoe’s hands and allow him to make plays for his teammates, their offense could look much smoother and be even more high powered than it has been.
Defensively, Bledsoe is extremely improved from his first couple seasons in the NBA. He may not be one of the best in the league, but he is a very pesky defender on the perimeter. Last season, he averaged 1.6 steals per game and used his speed and quick hands to force opposing offenses to be careful when he is on the floor.
There are concerns surrounding his game, and one of the most obvious issues would be his health. The problems that he had last season at the beginning of the year were nagging all the way through the season, and it probably ended up hampering his overall performance even when he was on the floor. Another issue is the fact that his three-point shooting and free-throw percentages dropped last season, but he can work hard on that this offseason and bring them back up.
All of that being said, it adds up to the Suns needing to re-sign Bledsoe to a long-term deal. They are on the verge of seeing their future being the brightest that it has been in a long time, and losing Bledsoe would put them a major step back from where they’re currently at. It will be very interesting to see what ends up happening with Bledsoe, but the Suns have to figure out a way to bring him back.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com.