Milwaukee Bucks: Regrading the highly discussed Eric Bledsoe trade

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 22: (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 22: (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe, New Orleans Pelicans: Jrue Holiday
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The on-court fit of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017 for the Milwaukee Bucks

There really were two different Bledsoe’s that the Bucks got, one being regular season Bledsoe and the other playoff Bledsoe. The latter of the two truly tanked his tenure with the Bucks and tanks the regrade of this trade, if we’re being honest. If the Bucks got regular season Bledsoe in the playoffs, we’re probably looking at a 2021-22 Bucks roster with him still on the team.

Let’s start with the positive though. In 210 regular-season games (started all 210!) with Milwaukee, Bledsoe averaged 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.5 steals. Those aren’t too far off from his averages in Phoenix and he did have a reduced overall role, going from a near 26 percent usage rate with the Suns to just over 24 percent with the Bucks.

Partially due to his reduced role, his efficiency went up from a 56.1 percent true shooting percentage to 57.8 percent, and his effective field goal percentage increased by four and a half percent. He even cut down his turnover rate by two percent between his Phoenix and Milwaukee tenures. He was a very solid player for the Bucks in the regular season and even made two All-Defense teams in his second and third seasons with the Bucks, living up to the defensive potential many knew he had.

Lineups with him, Antetokounmpo, and Middleton routinely had a positive net rating with the highest being a staggering +18.9 in 678 minutes during the 2019-20 regular season according to It was the second-highest net rating for any three-man lineup combo with at least 500 minutes together. The highest was another lineup with Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo, but with Wesley Matthews. For all of the initial concerns of how Bledsoe’s inconsistent shooting would fit with Antetokounmpo, the two were brilliant together in the regular season. Let’s remember some of the good times with Bledsoe together!

But we use that regular-season caveat for a reason because playoff Bledsoe was a whole different story. In 31 playoff games with the Bucks (he started all of them too!), Bledsoe’s averages fell to 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals. But that doesn’t come close to telling the full story.

His regular-season 3-point percentage dropped from 34 percent in his regular-season Bucks career to 25.4 percent in the playoffs (4.1 attempts per game might be the worst part). His true shooting dropped by over eight percent (49.4 percent in the playoffs) while his 3-point attempt rate stayed right around the same. Bledsoe’s regular-season Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) was 7.2. In the playoffs, it was 0.3. He was worth 19.2 win shares in the regular season, but only 1.1 in the playoffs. Surprisingly, his turnover rate was right around the same so we can at least give him credit for not turning the ball over as much while maintaining a similar usage.

His net rating with Antetokounmpo and Middleton plummeted in the 2020 playoffs to +3.0, a nearly 16 point drop from their regular-season mark. He was simply a different player in the postseason and his legacy as a Buck suffered severely because of it.