Bledsoe's performance took a dive last Friday versus the Blazers, when he managed just three points over 25 minutes, but he responded Wednesday with the best three-point shooting of his four exhibition appearances and turned in some quality contributions on the boards. He also saw his most minutes of the preseason, further confirming his surgically-repaired left knee is fully prepared for the rigors of the regular season.
After being held to three points on 1-of-6 shooting Monday in the preseason opener against the Spurs, Bledsoe responded with a better game Wednesday while playing only one more minute.
Bledsoe compiled three points (1-6 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-1 FT), four assists, four rebounds and three steals across 18 minutes in Monday's 91-86 preseason win over the Spurs.
The Suns understandably limited Bledsoe's minutes in his first game since late December, when the point guard was diagnosed with a torn left meniscus that ultimately sidelined him for the rest of the season. Coach Earl Watson announced Monday that Bledsoe would retain his spot in the starting lineup in 2016-17, but he'll have to adjust to a new backcourt mate, as second-year player Devin Booker will start at shooting guard while Brandon Knight transitions to a sixth-man role. The change shouldn't affect Bledsoe much, as he'll serve as the linchpin of the Suns' offensive attack regardless of who he shares the court with.
Watson revealed that his lineup for both Monday's preseason opener against the Spurs as well as the start of the regular season would include Bledsoe, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler. It's certainly no surprise to see Bledsoe penciled in at point guard, but the fact that Brandon Knight will come off the bench is rather surprising, considering he started 50 of his 52 games in 2015-16. Bledsoe's grasp on the starting job appears to be a strong one, though Knight's ability to play both off and on the ball could cut into Bledsoe and Booker's workloads at various points over the course of the season.
Bledsoe said Wednesday that he's shed about 10 pounds this summer and now checks in at 189 pounds, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports.
Conditioning has never really been an issue for Bledsoe, but the weight loss should make the speedy point guard even more sleek when he penetrates the lane. That being said, less bulk could also make Bledsoe more vulnerable at the rim, which may be more of a concern for a player who has been quite susceptible to injuries over the course of his career. At least for now though, Bledsoe is feeling 100 percent after being limited to just 31 games last season following December surgery to repair a torn left meniscus. Bledsoe has top-10 fantasy upside among point guards, but his history of health issues makes him a more risky selection than many of his contemporaries at the position.
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