HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With point guard superstars (Chris Paul) and luminaries (Chauncey Billups) on the roster, it must be tough for a youngster like Eric Bledsoe to find time to shine.
He’s also operating on a team that features the one-man, crossover freakshow that is Jamal Crawford, whose exploits on a nightly basis inspire these sorts of tweets:
But with Paul (knee) joining Billups on the Los Angeles Clippers’ bench the past two games, their young apprentice has been at the controls and the Clippers didn’t slow down one bit.
They followed up a 26-point rout of the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night with another solid thumping of the Houston Rockets last night. Bledsoe was fantastic in both, dropping 14 points, four assists and three rebounds on Mike Conley and the Grizzlies and then a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists on Jeremy Lin and the Rockets.
Bledsoe knows he has to bide his time behind his more heralded teammates, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have plenty of ambition to fuel his fire in the meantime. He couldn’t have two better tutors. And he’s already formulated his plan, according to my main man Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times:
“I’m just preparing for that moment,” Bledsoe said in his typically quiet voice. “I’m still learning behind Chris and Chauncey. Hopefully, we win a championship and if I do get that chance, I can lead a team.”
Bledsoe started for the second consecutive game because Paul was out because of a bruised right kneecap. Bledsoe finished with a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Clippers’ 117-109 victory over Houston.
But Bledsoe knows that Paul is an All-Star point guard who is just 27 years old.
If Paul re-signs with the Clippers over the summer as most people expect, it will mean Bledsoe may have to leave the Clippers to become a starter.
“I’m just focused on winning,” Bledsoe said. “I’m just focused on winning and learning how to win right now. For the most part, I’m just continuing working and building, learning how to run a team. The other stuff will take care of itself.”
The Clippers are deep enough at every position that they should be able to resist any urge to dangle Bledsoe in the trade market this season, preserving their right to groom him for a bigger role in the event that Paul’s decides to go elsewhere (which seems implausible, considering the way the Clippers are playing this season).
Bledsoe is a luxury that not every team in the league has, a youngster with superstar potential that they can take their time grooming for bigger and better things.
In a league filled with young, talented point guard prospects, Bledsoe might very well be the most underrated due to his current circumstance. He also has one of the highest ceilings.