Around the Web: Bledsoe's Emergence, Babby Against Tanking

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Eric Bledsoe's emergence is exploding the collective minds of sports writers and stats geeks. The result has been a plethora of Bledsoe-related articles, blogs and tweets.

The attention has been justified. Bledsoe has led the Suns to a 3-1 record with Goran Dragic missing one and a half of those games. The fourth-year guard has taken over when it matters most while still distributing the ball on a regular basis.

The crunch-time production, however, has been the most impressive part of his game.

Bledsoe's ability to meet the spotlight without blinking was one of the bigger questions facing the 23-year-old entering this season. Up until now, Bledsoe had played primarily as a backup in his NBA career.

Now, there appears little doubt that Bledsoe is not only capable of stepping up, but is hungering for as many opportunities to do so as possible. NBA.com's Sekou Smith devoted his latest blog post to the former Clipper's emergence.

"...the freedom Bledsoe is playing with under Suns coach Jeff Hornacek is helping Bledsoe emerge from Paul’s shadow in a way that will prove to the rest of the league that he’s ready to shed his promising prospect label and truly become a legitimate starting point guard in the league.

This is the part of the player metamorphosis that has always fascinated me. You never know for sure what a guy is capable of until he’s plopped into that pressure cooker on a nightly basis. Bledsoe — 22.8 points, 7.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds to go along with 50 percent shooting from the floor — has proved to be more than capable of handling the increased responsibility for a Suns team that has been stronger (3-1) out of the gate than most anyone expected."

Babby Against Tanking

Phoenix's better-than-expected start earned praise from some, ridicule from others. The latter stems from the idea that certain teams would benefit from playing to lose in order to land a higher draft pick in next year's draft, deemed by nearly every league insider as the best in at least a decade.

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, however, ripped the notion apart in a recent interview with Sean Deveney, NBA beat writer for SportingNews.com.

“There is a key difference,” Babby said, “between acknowledging that you’re rebuilding, which we are, and some notion that you’re not trying to succeed—anybody in this business, because you’re competitive, and you have a competitive nature, it is not going to do anything but give your heart and soul to try to win every night. I don’t know how you go about your job any other way.”

Deveney backed up Babby's opinion, pointing out that the concept of tanking is far more extreme than what many teams actually do.

"As the Sixers and Suns have shown, putting together a young team that might lose a lot of games does not mean players take the floor aiming to put out a half-hearted effort. It does not mean coaches spend hours in their offices with their feet up, sipping sweet tea and playing Words With Friends. They may be overmatched, they may be more concerned about long-term development than immediate wins and losses. But that does not constitute tanking."