As the Milwaukee Bucks continue to roll through an incredible winning stretch, Eric Bledsoe‘s been more content with pulling the strings for the team’s offense.
The Milwaukee Bucks have spent their 2019-20 season redefining the standards they set for themselves the previous year.
Being on a 15-game winning streak like the Bucks are on currently will obviously do that and they’ve only grown into a more dominant force as the streak has risen to new heights. And while some things and faces have changed year over year, the Bucks’ ability to mow through their competition remains the same.
It’s been through the better part of the Bucks’ current win streak that starting point guard Eric Bledsoe has been more comfortable taking a backseat to influence the game in ways that haven’t been associated with him, historically.
Bledsoe has had a positive run throughout 2019-20 run, especially after fighting some early stumbles that stemmed from a rib injury suffered during preseason.
That initially affected his score-first mentality and relentless attacking of the paint and he picked up his scoring over the stretch where the Bucks were without All-Star swingman Khris Middleton at the start of their winning streak. Ever since Middleton has been back in the mix, Bledsoe has operated in a more deferential role, having only scored in double digits in three of the seven games since Middleton has returned.
Of course, that overlaps with the Bucks’ most overwhelming victories to date this season and Bledsoe seeing the floor for less than his normal minutes workload on the season at 27.1 minutes per game.
But the point of Bledsoe’s individual offense still stands as the 30-year-old is averaging 14.6 points on 12 shot attempts per game so far this season and both figures stand as the lowest marks since Bledsoe became a full-time starting point guard back in the 2013-14 season as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
As Bledsoe’s scoring has taken a little slip at the moment, his playmaking and overall reading of the game has come to the forefront. The former Wildcat is leading the Bucks by averaging 5.7 assists and 2.3 turnovers through his 24 appearances this season, making for a 2.49 assist-to-turnover ratio.
For the second straight year, the spacing that Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer prioritizes in the team’s offensive system has optimized Bledsoe’s distribution of the ball and the added wrinkles the Bucks have added into their offensive repertoire have benefited Bledsoe.
Forty-three of Bledsoe’s 133 total assists have resulted in three-pointers and Wesley Matthews has been a favorite target for Bledsoe as Matthews has hit 14 of his 29 three-point attempts on passes dished out from Bledsoe so far this year, per NBA.com/stats.
While that may be a lower figure than some Bucks fans would have guessed, Bledsoe’s ability to push the pace and feed teammates for scores has stood out, regardless of whether it comes from beyond the 3-point line or not. All of that has led to Bledsoe accumulating the 15th highest amount of assist points created at 365 points, five points higher than his superstar teammate in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
What’s remarkable is that Bledsoe’s advanced numbers aren’t all that dissimilar to what he posted throughout the 2018-19 season, as evidenced by his 23.2 usage percentage and 55.8 touches per game. Last year, Bledsoe tallied a 22.5 usage percentage and 56.2 touches per game.
There are still some improvements Bledsoe can make to better his passing to lead the Bucks’ offense, the biggest of which is to continue cutting down on the niggling turnovers that continue to arise when Bledsoe leaves his feet after driving to the paint to only then abort for desperation pass attempts to teammates.
Granted, it’s an area of Bledsoe’s game that he’s made significant strides in since arriving to Milwaukee and especially so since being under Budenholzer’s guidance, and perhaps we’ll see further improvements within the Bucks’ explosive offense as the season moves along.