Who made the Milwaukee Bucks into contenders: #5: Eric Bledsoe
Eric Bledsoe was acquired from the Phoenix Suns for Greg Monroe, a second-round pick, and a first-round pick. Bledsoe gave the Milwaukee Bucks an edge at point guard they hadn’t had in a long time. Brandon Knight had his moments, and Michael Carter-Williams was better in theory than in practice, but Eric Bledsoe gave the Milwaukee Bucks a true two-way weapon at the point guard position, and his rise coincided with the rise of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Bledsoe was acquired at the beginning of the 2017-18 season and played 71 games for the Bucks that season; they finished seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks got off to a 23-22 start, and Jason Kidd was fired. Joe Prunty (now back on the Bucks staff) became the interim coach, and the Milwaukee Bucks were better but didn’t advance out of the first round of the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks did take the Boston Celtics, the two seed, to seven games, putting some extra eyes on the team and making them a more attractive destination for head coaching candidates with a young, budding team. Eric Bledsoe was part of that group.
In Bledsoe’s first season with the Bucks, he scored 17.8 points, dished 5.1 assists, and grabbed 3.9 rebounds per game. Bledsoe did this while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and just under 35 percent on 3-point shots. Bledsoe also had the second-highest defensive win shares on the team behind just Giannis Antetokounmpo, per NBA.com/stats.
Bledsoe’s role would continue to shrink in the years following, and he would become part of a trade that propelled the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years.