Milwaukee Bucks: Pressure only likely to grow on Eric Bledsoe

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Whether the season resumes or not, Milwaukee Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe will come under increased scrutiny for his play in big moments.

If the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t brought normal life, and the NBA with it, to a halt across the United States, the Milwaukee Bucks would be either readying themselves for, or in the middle of a high stakes Eastern Conference semi-final series at this moment.

In other words, this is the time of year when for the past two seasons, Eric Bledsoe‘s game has seemed to abandon him.

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Since arriving in Milwaukee via a trade with the Phoenix Suns, Bledsoe has been an outstanding contributor for the Bucks, and a key component of their larger overhaul in playing style and identity as a team.

At least, that is, until the pressure really ramps up in a postseason setting and any struggles the point guard endures get magnified ten-fold.

That was certainly the case when Terry Rozier and the Celtics got the better of Bledsoe in his first season with the Bucks, while it was also apparent as the 30-year-old’s play dropped off after the first round in Milwaukee’s near-miss last year.

With the NBA’s current situation filled with uncertainty, one of the few things that does seem clear from a Bucks perspective is that whatever the next step entails, it will only lead to the spotlight on Bledsoe growing even brighter.

If it proves possible for the season to resume and the Bucks find themselves looking to pick up their outstanding season in the playoffs, the urgency that would have existed before the stoppage will remain. This season was all about capitalizing on a golden opportunity, and doing enough to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to pledge his long-term future to the franchise.

Beyond that, though, and in the event where resuming the current campaign proves impossible, Bledsoe may still be in line to feel the heat more than maybe any other Bucks player.

With the Bucks already having one of the NBA’s oldest rosters in terms of average age, a lost season would only make the timeline for many of their key players to win championships even more condensed than it could potentially have been in the first place.

Bledsoe, himself, will turn 31 in December. If the Bucks don’t get a chance to right previous wrongs this postseason, and he individually doesn’t get an opportunity to overcome any lingering demons, there may be some difficult decisions to be made by Milwaukee’s front office.

Certainly, it would seem unlikely that the Bucks could go through more than one more postseason of Bledsoe playing well below his best without being forced into making changes, particularly given how close to the NBA summit they are at present.

Therefore, if the season does pick up again in the coming months, Bledsoe will certainly need to hit the ground running. But, alternatively, a cancelation would only increase the need for him to make up for lost time too.

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Bledsoe has frequently been brilliant for the Bucks in the regular season, but they can’t afford to wait much longer for his playoff play to match those standards.