After going on a four-game losing streak the Milwaukee Bucks made a trade for Eric Bledsoe that has drastically improved their trajectory in the wide-open Eastern Conference and are 2-0 since acquiring Bledsoe from Phoenix. How has he impacted all phases of the Bucks? Take a look at my breakdown of everything Milwaukee Bucks since they acquired Eric Bledsoe.
There was much concern about the chemistry of Bledsoe and Giannis together on the court, with both having similar skill sets requiring the ball to be effective, but after the first game it was apparent that chemistry would not be an issue. Bledsoe dished out seven assists in that contest including a sweet lob to the Greek Freak in transition against the Spurs. The transition game looked upgraded with Bledsoe’s incredible speed allowing him to spurt past defenders and find the open man running the floor. The relationship of Bledsoe and Giannis is working and it’s all occurring with relatively no change to Giannis’s shot attempts. Bledsoe’s shot attempts have taken a slight decrease in his two games with Milwaukee in comparison to previous seasons in Phoenix. This not being the main option of the Bucks, it was expected there would need to be sacrifices in his shots per game. I think it is fair to say that there is already chemistry being developed and I believe you’re seeing a more interested Eric Bledsoe now that he is finally playing for a contender.
It appears the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee has changed much more than just the rotation for the Bucks. Before Bledsoe hit the floor as a Buck, there was heavy concern about the defensive woes on their recent four-game losing skid giving up an average of 116 points per contest. Since the acquisition of Bledsoe, there has seemingly been a 180 in the intensity on the defensive end of the floor. In both wins over the weekend against the Spurs and the Lakers, the Bucks held them to 87 and 90 points, respectively. Bledsoe brings elite defensive capabilities to a Bucks team that desperately needed a jolt for the team. Bledsoe’s impact has been immediate as the Bucks have won the turnover differential and are +13 combined in both games. In addition to the statistical impacts Bledsoe brings with his presence on the court, he also brings the Bucks more flexibility with defensive matchups late in games. The Bucks can now switch screens of all three guard positions at all times and not be in a mismatch that can leave the defense vulnerable. If the Bucks continue to keep teams in the 80-90’s, they increase their chances to win every single game this season.
You could see there was a decrease in Tony Snell’s minutes against the Lakers, only playing 19, while Malcolm Brogdon played 33 minutes off the bench. I see this to be a favorable trend for the Bucks because Malcolm Brogdon is better offensively than Tony Snell, and can be a good defender similar to that of Snell. This in my opinion is because of the flexibility brought to the table by Eric Bledsoe. In late game scenarios Coach Kidd shouldn’t be afraid to sit Tony Snell down because you can have nearly the same defensive efficiency with more scoring inserting Malcolm Brogdon in place of Snell. Bledsoe also bolsters the bench of the Bucks in the same way. Brogdon now can run the point of the second unit and when in control of that group he has an uncanny ability to make shots easier for his teammates by drawing attention to himself to simply dish it off to an open teammate.
Attitude. The attitude surrounding the team since Bledsoe’s acquisition is that of serious playoff team. It’s not hard to draw the conclusion that Bledsoe trade made sense to Bucks management because they saw an opening in the Eastern Conference this season based on the early struggles for the Cavs and the injury of Gordon Hayward. It appears in the last two games there has been an energy surrounding the team that we haven’t seen since the 2001 team that took the 76ers seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The focus that the team has had in these two games are eye opening to see what they can do when they have depth and a defensive attitude that simply won’t give oppositions good shots or offensive rebounds. I think that Eric Bledsoe also brings a winning pedigree to the Bucks having played with the Clippers, he knows what it takes to be competitive on a nightly basis something that the Bucks have struggled with. Possibly the largest intangible could be something that Bledsoe spoke about right after the trade was completed, an opportunity to learn the PG position under Jason Kidd. Bledsoe has always been a scorer, but if can learn the game and the mentality of the PG spot similar to how Jason Kidd played the game there is no question that he can elevate the Bucks to a top three team consistently in the East.