Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe continues to master pull up 3-point shot

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 11: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 11: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Eric Bledsoe‘s 3-point shooting continues to trend upward as the season moves along, and it’s been his success hitting threes off the dribble that makes him an interesting threat for the Milwaukee Bucks.

As the 3-pointer continues to be a critical component to the Milwaukee Bucks’ system and way of life under head coach Mike Budenholzer, their efficiency could certainly stand to improve on that front.

This season, the Bucks have hit 35.4 percent of their collective 3-pointers, which ranks a tenth higher than the 35.3 percent they hit from that range of the floor last year. With no real improvement at this point in the campaign, it’s hard to determine whether the Bucks can be a bigger threat from long distance as opposing teams continue to test them from that level of the floor.

More from Bucks News

Yet, there have been underlying improvements in terms of the Bucks’ 3-point prowess, some big and small, the biggest of which is headlined by the development of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s marksmanship and combating the biggest weakness of his game.

Along those same lines, Eric Bledsoe has reinforced what has similarly been the long-standing hole in his valuable skill set.

Like all Bucks players since the arrival of Budenholzer, Bledsoe has been empowered to take on his 3-point shooting inconsistencies head on. The returns on that front have been mixed and Bledsoe’s wavering confidence in his ability to hit the long ball has reared its ugly head at critical moments, such as when he hit 23.6 percent of 72 3-point attempts during the Bucks’ playoff run last year.

For the time being, however, Bledsoe’s outside shooting has steadily surged as the year has moved along and since returning from an avulsion fracture in his right fibula before the turn of the new year.

On the year, Bledsoe is hitting 36 percent of his 125 3-point attempts and that as well as his improvements from the free throw line, where he’s shooting a career-best 82.9 percent, have helped the 30-year-old match his most efficient true shooting percentage of his 10-year career at 58.2 percent.

As is the case with Antetokounmpo, Bucks assistant coach and shot doctor Ben Sullivan has been Bledsoe’s right hand man in helping him to raise his effectiveness from beyond the arc. And this season, veteran Bucks sharpshooter Kyle Korver has been there to give Bledsoe guidance, along with Sullivan, as The Athletic’s Eric Nehm brilliantly detailed earlier this month.

It’s been through the help of both coach and teammate that Bledsoe’s ability to hit pull-ups from deep has improved, which has been critical to his success from 3-point range. The former Wildcat is now hitting 40.9 percent of his 66 3-point attempts off the dribble, a mark that currently tracks higher than the 38.4 percent he shot on such opportunities last season.

Whether it’s been regularly pulling up in transition or making defenders pay when they go under screens set by various Bucks big men, Bledsoe has continued to give the Bucks a different dimension that further opens up driving lanes for himself and Antetokounmpo, in particular, to thrive on ensuing possessions.

It’s all helped the Bucks become one the strongest teams in shooting pull up threes as they’re collectively hitting 34.6 percent of their 486 attempts on such shots, good for fifth in the NBA.

Comparatively, Bledsoe has lagged behind when looking to launch catch-and-shoot looks from deep as he’s shooting 14-of-54, a mark of 25.9 percent. And that remains consistent with how his season went last year when he connected on 29.3 percent of his 194 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.

The biggest question, as it’s been about Bledsoe’s 3-point marksmanship, has been his ability to sustain this level of success. Perhaps more importantly, the question now is more about Bledsoe being confident in sticking with the process and continuing to let it fly when his percentages potentially tumble against higher levels of competition, especially come playoff time.

Next. Bucks’ winning should be rewarded with multiple All-Stars. dark

As opposing teams will continue testing the Bucks to see if their 3-point offense can lift them to victory, being able to keep defenses honest is the single biggest element that Bledsoe has to master within the team’s system. For now, it’s working and the Bucks have long been at their best when Bledsoe’s flourishing and playing to the level he’s been playing recently.