After missing five games with little improvement since banging shins with P.J. Tucker in practice, Eric Bledsoe will get an MRI on the shin to make sure it's not a serious injury.

We've all had injuries that heal fast, and we've all had some that don't. Sometimes, what appears to be a minor injury lingers on and on for much longer than expected.

You can safely say that Eric Bledsoe's left shin bruise fits in that latter category.


Clearly, the Suns want Eric Bledsoe back and Bledsoe wants to be back. He is the Suns' leading scorer at over 20 points per game, along with nearly seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Plus, he personally won a couple of games for the Suns in the early going: 17 points in one fourth quarter against New Orleans, and a game winning three against Utah.

According to SportVu data, Bledsoe was one of the game's top point guards this season:

  • 12th in points created by assist per game (Dragic is 9th, by the way)
  • 11th in assists per game (Dragic is 12th)
  • 3rd in PPG on drives to the rim (7.2)
  • 11th in team PPG on drives (8.6, while Dragic is 6th at 10.1)
  • 8th in pull-up shot PPG (7.9)
  • 4th in pull-up shot 3-pointers per game (1.0)
  • 1st in pull-up FG% per game (53.8%, among those who take 4+ pull-ups per game)

The Suns were 5-4 with Bledsoe in the starting lineup, 2-1 with Dragic lined up with him.

Since Bledsoe has been out, the Suns are 2-3 despite Goran Dragic killing it from the PG position. The Suns definitely need a secondary playmaker on the floor next to Dragic to give them options in the half court. In addition, the Suns defense has slipped in recent games, at least partially due to missing Bledsoe in the back court.

Given the initially benign nature of a "shin bruise" compared to what appeared to be tougher injuries suffered by his PG counterpart Goran Dragic this season (stitches, hard hits to the head), a skeptic might worry that Bledsoe is injury prone.

I asked ClipsNation's blogger Steve Perrin about it last week when the absence stretched to three games:

Q: "Eric Bledsoe played 40 games in year 2 and 76 in year 3 of his career in LA. Now, he's missing his 3rd game in a row for a bruised shin. Did Bledsoe ever have rep for missing more games than he should, due to injury? Or, should I not be reading anything into this?"

Steve, ClipsNation: "The short answer is no. He had meniscus surgery during the lockout, which accounts for all of his missed time in 11-12. (He tried to come back earlier but wasn't ready. But still, it's meniscus surgery, hard to claim malingering.) He missed five games with a strained calf last season. As hard as he plays, as physical as he is, I'll take 76 out of 82 games."

That's good to hear. A blemish on a star's shine is an injury history that continually takes a player out of the lineup.

Luckily, Eric Bledsoe has never shown that pattern.



Time: 7:00 pm MDT TV: FSAZ Tonight the Phoenix Suns return home from their successful southeast road trip to take on the Portland Trail Blazers for the third time in four weeks. After their opening...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

If a podcast gets recorded on a Tuesday night, does anyone hear it?

...2005 is not walking through that door. You will understand once you listen. Hint: It has to do with the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers. Go ahead, guess. Or just listen to the podcast?

We break this down into a two-parter.

On the A-Side we review the week that was in Suns basketball. The losses, the wins, and the unfortunate correlation to last season one game gave to us. We dive into the numbers with Miles Plumlee, the Suns record, and whether or not 14 games is enough to judge a team. Hint: We disagree.

A-Side: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 46

Then on the B-Side we add our takes and thoughts on the Kobe Bryant extension that nearly broke the internet this week. We keep it short and point the Gorilla's new gattling gun right at the Lakers for this move.

B-Side: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 46 B-Side (Kobe Bryant Extension)

(The answer to the riddle above is yes and no. Yes people will hear it, but not on Tuesday, because it is up now... Enjoy!)

As many know, the Phoenix Suns could have as many as four first round picks in the 2014 draft, but three of them are "protected" if the other team fails to make the playoffs. Let's take a look at what happens then.

On opening night of the 2013-14 season, the Phoenix Suns' prospects in the 2014 and 2015 NBA Draft looked golden. In fact, the mother ship ranked the Suns' draft future as "by far" the brightest of all NBA teams. The Suns were projected to have their own Top 10 picks, plus up to four more in the back half of the first round.

After trading Steve Nash, Robin Lopez and Sebastian Telfair in 2012-13 for three future first round picks and three second round picks*, and then Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat for two more first rounders, the Suns are rolling in picks.

*More credit should be given to Lon Babby for his work before McDonough ever showed up. In 2013, the Suns already nabbed 19-year old Archie Goodwin and helped finalize the Eric Bledsoe trade with two of the Lakers' and Toronto picks acquired for Nash and Telfair. I think Suns fans will agree that if the Lakers had picked up Archie Goodwin with their #30 pick this year we'd all be shaking our heads at their luck once again.

That leaves four future firsts still on the table, but with heavy protections. All but the Lakers' 2015 pick and the Suns own picks are guaranteed to be outside the Top 10 of any draft for several years.

Here is a breakdown, thanks to

2014 first round draft pick from Minnesota
Minnesota's 1st round pick to Phoenix protected for selections 1-13 in 2014, 1-12 in 2015 or 1-12 in 2016; if Minnesota has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Phoenix by 2016, then Minnesota will instead convey its 2016 2nd round pick and 2017 2nd round pick to Phoenix [Minnesota-New Orleans-Phoenix, 7/27/2012]

2014 first round draft pick from Washington
Washington's 1st round pick to Phoenix protected for selections 1-12 in 2014, 1-10 in 2015, 1-10 in 2016, 1-10 in 2017, 1-10 in 2018 or 1-10 in 2019 or unprotected in 2020 [Phoenix-Washington, 10/25/2013]

2014 first round draft pick from Indiana
Indiana's 1st round pick to Phoenix protected for selections 1-14 in 2014, 1-14 in 2015, 1-14 in 2016, 1-14 in 2017, 1-14 in 2018 or 1-14 in 2019 or unprotected in 2020 [Indiana-Phoenix, 7/28/2013]

2015 first round draft pick from L.A. Lakers
L.A. Lakers' 1st round pick to Phoenix protected for selections 1-5 in 2015, 1-3 in 2016 or 1-3 in 2017 or unprotected in 2018 [L.A. Lakers-Phoenix, 7/11/2012]

The nature of protected picks is that they roll over to the next year if not conveyed in the first year. Minnesota's has already rolled over from 2013 when they didn't make the playoffs.

The good news is that only the Minny pick turns into a pumpkin if the Wolves never get better. All the others will eventually convey to Phoenix.

If Minny never sniffs the playoffs through 2016, then their #1 turns into a couple of #2s. That's not the end of the world. The Suns used a #2 to acquire Marcus Morris last year, and used another #2 to seal the Bledsoe deal this summer (pick went to Milwaukee in the three-way trade).

All of the other owed picks not only roll over, but they get better and better.

Thanks to the Lakers' re-signing Kobe Bryant to a cap-killing contract yesterday, the Laker pick should be very, very good in the coming years. It's only top-5 protected in 2015, then top-3 for two years and finally unprotected in 2018.

Both Washington and Indiana will eventually give the Suns an unprotected pick if they suck for seven straight seasons.

While the Suns just might have a year-long competitive team in 2013-14 and beyond, taking them out of the lottery, at least they've got some help from other teams in the second half of the first round in coming years.

A lot of very good players have been taken in the 10-30 range, though it takes a lot more skill and luck to find gems outside the Top 5. But also, all those first rounders and second rounders are just more assets to use to acquire that next superstar. It's time the Suns "trade up" to better talent, and all those picks are a great way to sweeten the deals.

There are more pluses in the win column for the team this year and even with a sub-.500 week their were some positives, a similar resilience, and a quality rebound to a four game losing streak...

The Phoenix Suns (7-7) are simply maintaining. They lost two games they probably should have won, then won two games they normally would have lost, and then had the hammer dropped down on them by the Basketball King himself to close out a long week of hoops.

Game Recaps

@ Sacramento Kings - L (107-104) Full Recap

vs. Sacramento - L (113-106) Full Recap

@ Charlotte Bobcats - W (98-91) Full Recap

@ Orlando Magic - W (104-96) Full Recap

@ Miami Heat - L (107-92) Full Recap

This week the Suns took a step back doing the things that made them tough early in the season, while continuing to highlight their weaknesses. On the week they were a collective -10 in rebounding and -3 in total team assists. Team basketball on both ends is what made them tough. Some nights it was Miles Plumlee dominating, others it was Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, or someone else. They play as a team.

When they do not play as a team the turnovers pile up, which happened this week with a -9 total differential.

One good thing that came out of this week was that the team is slowly finding out that Greens are better served as a starter rather than a reserve.

The team is 5-4 with Green in the starting line-up -- 3-1 with Bledsoe and 2-3 with Dragic, but overall better. On the season they are 2-3 with him coming off the bench and the numbers do not lie.

Starter 17.1 3.4 2.1 46.6% 40.1% 15/18
Reserve 11.6 2.4 0.4 41.1% 39.7% 7/11

Clearly Dragic has earned his starting spot and the Suns did not acquire Bledsoe to play him in the same role as he had on the Clippers. Those two are investments that have to start, but where does Green fit in? P.J. Tucker is thriving in his role and is making shots, spreading the floor, and doing all the little things for the team.

When Bledsoe comes back the team will have an abundance of perimeter players when you consider the recent play of rookie Archie Goodwin. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season; The Suns have too many quality perimeter players?

Key Stat

Miles Plumlee's +/-

This week was a step back for the surprise of the year for the Suns, Miles Plumlee. He was not effective against Kings star DeMarcus Cousins netting a -30 in the home-and-home with them for 46 points 24 rebounds and 30 total free-throw attempts. In the two wins he was ineffective as well at a collective 0 on the plus/minus playing Nikola Vucevic and Al Jefferson to near dead heat. Against the actual Heat he was a -7 playing out of his element with big men that stepped out on the perimeter taking away his ability to block shots and rebound the ball.

Plumlee has had a great start to the season, but this week a collective -37 in five games was by far his toughest outing to date.

Quote of the Week

I thought earlier in the season Miles said it great. He played 50 minutes last year and he goes, 'I wasn't just sitting over there watching the games, I was watching the game and trying to study it.' Hopefully Archie, Alex and the rest of these young guys are doing that. Even for veteran guys, when you are on the bench it is a time to watch what is going on and pick something up for later in the game. Maybe Cousins did that. Maybe from watching the game the game from the bench he saw Goran coming off of pick-and-rolls and thought late in the game I can jump him and surprise him. I don't know if he did that or not... but if you are going to be on the bench you are not just there trying to watch the game. -- Coach Jeff Hornacek on learning from watching on the bench

2014 NBA Draft Update

Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns are still without a lottery pick and with the current projections they do not own four picks yet. It was a pipe-dream to begin the season, but still something to root for. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:

Washington Wizards (5-8) -- No. 9 Overall (Pick stays in Washington based on Protections) Right now the No. 9 Overall prospect on the NDI Big Board is James Young of Kentucky. Dynamic scorer on the perimeter, smooth lefty, and really good shooter.

Minnesota Timberwolves (8-8) -- No. 12 Overall (Pick stays in Minnesota based on Protections) The T-Wolves have fallen off as of late keeping this pick in the Twin Cities. Right now the No. 12 Overall prospect is Dario Saric, Croatian point-forward. Saric has been on the radar for a while and should make the jump to the NBA Draft this summer.

Suns (7-7) -- No. 14 Overall (Pick stays in Phoenix based on Protections) ...more on Saric here because this is where I have him falling in the Mock Draft. Montrezl Harrell is an option here as well, but the skill and potential of Saric as a play-maker is too much to pass on at this point in a draft.

Indiana Pacers (13-1) -- No. 30 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) The team can take a hard swing here and add a need. Some options that could be on the radar here are Aaron Harrison, Mitch McGary, or the player slotted in the Mock Draft, Michigan guard Nik Stauskas.

News & Notes

Eric Bledsoe continued his run on the inactive list which now sits at five games after missing all five games last week. The team was 2-3 in his absence and competitive, but the Suns ascension coincided with the play with of Bledsoe. He could return to action as soon as this Wednesday at home versus the streaking Blazers.

Suns History Lesson

This week (December 1st to be exact) the 1992-1993 Suns began a 14 game winning streak that propelled them to the best record, not only in the Western Conference, but in the NBA.  During that winning streak the Suns knocked off multiple playoff teams and scored 103+ points in every game. That was the Suns longest winning streak in franchise history until the Seven Seconds or Less group won 17 in a row roughly 13 years later.

Previewing the Week Ahead:

Wednesday, November 27th vs. Portland Trail Blazers (13-2)

Friday, November 29th @ Utah Jazz (2-14)

Saturday, November 30th vs. Utah (2-14)

This week lines up like the inverse of last week with a team at the top of the standings to start the week and a bottom tier team in a home-and-home to end the week. This could be a redeeming week for the team. They are 1-1 on the season against the Trail Blazers (1-0 at home) and played them down to the final buzzer on the road. LaMarcus Aldridge does not seem to play well against the Suns shooting about 4% off his career average, scoring about 2 less points a game, and grabbing about a 1.5 less rebounds.

The Jazz have been slowly circling the drain all season, but with Trey Burke recently added into the mix this team might start looking like a team soon... 1-1 with Burke as a starter and 1-11 without him in general.

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