Eric Bledsoe shoots a layup vs. Jahlil Okafor last season

Five things to know about Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

1)      He’s the second Alabama native to be officially added to the New Orleans roster during this abbreviated NBA offseason. Like Pelicans lottery draft pick Kira Lewis Jr. – who was born in Meridianville, Ala. – Bledsoe is a product of Louisiana’s neighboring state, having been born in Birmingham on Dec. 9, 1989. Bledsoe went to A.H. Parker High in that city, which is a five-hour drive from New Orleans. The 6-foot-1 point guard played one season of college basketball at the University of Kentucky, one of 24 former Wildcats to appear in an NBA game during the 2019-20 season, according to Basketball Reference.

2)      Bledsoe has been named to an All-Defense team each of the past two seasons, earning a spot on the NBA first team in ’18-19, followed by a second-team selection last season. In ’10-11 with the LA Clippers, he made the NBA’s All-Rookie second team. Coincidentally, two of the five players on that All-Rookie second team have played for New Orleans in recent years, including Derrick Favors and Wesley Johnson.

3)      Removing him as a New Orleans opponent could prove beneficial for the Pelicans, because Bledsoe has played some of his best basketball while facing the Big Easy. Over 23 career games vs. New Orleans, he’s averaged 14.7 points, which is his eighth-highest scoring output against the 30 NBA franchises (Bledsoe has played for the Clippers, Phoenix and Milwaukee). His shooting percentage from the field of 48.9 vs. the Pelicans is his third-highest rate and best against a Western Conference club (50.0 percent vs. Detroit; 49.1 against New York). He had a 29-point game vs. NOLA on Dec. 11 of last season, on 10/13 shooting. In ’16-17 with Phoenix, Bledsoe racked up 37- and 32-point outings against the Pelicans.

4)      Nine years ago, during a similarly unique NBA offseason, Bledsoe was reportedly a player the Clippers refused to include in a trade in which they acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul from New Orleans. Instead, the then-Hornets wound up with Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chris Kaman, as well as a future first-round pick that became Austin Rivers in ’12. Having successfully avoided losing Bledsoe, the Clippers officially executed the four-player trade with New Orleans on Dec. 14, 2011, after a lockout forced a work stoppage and delayed the start of the ’11-12 NBA season. That campaign began on Christmas.

5)      Bledsoe has appeared in 631 career regular season games (469 starts) and will bring some needed postseason experience to New Orleans, with 48 playoff games (31 starts) under his belt. Among the returning Pelicans players who made the most starts for them last season, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Zion Williamson, Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes and Nicolo Melli are seeking their first NBA playoff appearances. JJ Redick (36 starts, third among returnees) is one exception in that group, with 110 career postseason games.

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