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Phoenix Suns: Where Does Eric Bledsoe Fit Among NBA’s Elite Point Guards?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | There's no question that Eric Bledsoe deserves to be in the conversation when talking about the NBA's best point guards.

Does he deserve to be at the top? Not yet, but if you don't see signs of greatness in him then you just aren't looking close enough.

The Phoenix Suns are off to a surprising 5-2 start, largely due to the contributions of Bledsoe. He's averaging 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.9 steals with a shooting line of 52.2/33.3/81.1. In addition, he's spearheading the league's No. 8 team in scoring defense (96.0) and No. 6 team in defensive rating (99.5).

All of that begs the question -- where does he fit among the other elite point guards?

Who can we assume is in the elite category? Let's throw a couple of names in the elite hat here: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook can make their case.

How about the second tier, or just beneath our elite guys: Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams and Ricky Rubio belong here.

Can Bledsoe hang with those elite guys? His stats are impressive enough. The list of point guards who are averaging over 20 points, four rebounds and seven assists is awfully short. We've got Bledsoe and Paul -- that's it.

Paul is the gold standard of point guards, but Bledsoe isn't far behind as far as pure stats are concerned. Nobody in their right mind would take Bledsoe over Paul, though, so we'll just leave Paul on a pedestal and agree that Bledsoe isn't in that rare air just yet.

If we based this on stats alone, Bledsoe would be a top-five point guard in the NBA. As we all know, there's more to it than that. We also have to consider how Bledsoe runs an offense and we have to understand that he's in a perfect system for putting up good numbers.

While Bledsoe is extremely fun to watch and can do a little bit of everything, he's not really a player that can be depended on to carry a team just yet. Paul, Curry, Parker and Westbrook can do that.

Only those wearing the most rose (or orange) colored glasses would argue Bledsoe belongs among the elite. The second-tier (and most specifically near the top) is much more appropriate.

Although everyone on the second tier has more experience as a starting point guard, one could argue that Bledsoe could give all of them a run for their money. A healthy Rose belongs in the elite category, but he's either not healthy or not the same guy.

In my eyes, Bledsoe's intangibles should place him higher than some of the other second-tier guys. He plays hard (and well) on both ends of the court and can affect the game even when his offense isn't clicking. With all that said, here's where I place Bledsoe:

1. Chris Paul
2. Tony Parker
3. Stephen Curry
4. Russell Westbrook
5. Derrick Rose
6. Deron Williams
7. John Wall
8. Kyrie Irving
9. Eric Bledsoe
10. Ty Lawson

My apologies to Conley, Lillard, Rondo and Rubio.

Michael Dunlap is the author of the "Daily NBA Fix", an all-encompassing daily column that covers the NBA. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the NBA site HoopsHabit.com. He also covers high school sports for The Arizona Republic.


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