DALLAS, TX – The Phoenix Suns franchise has been in a struggle mode for a few years due to numerous trades and missing the playoffs the last five seasons.
After coming close but falling short in their bids to make the playoffs the last two seasons, the Suns and their fans are full of optimism this will finally be the year they begin to turn things around. Through one-fourth of the season, the Suns have been on an up-and-down roller coaster with mixed results all the way across the board.
“The last two seasons we definitely fell short and this year we are trying to prevent that,” Suns star guard Eric Bledsoe said. “We’ve started off a little bit slow, but it is a long season.”
So far this season, the Suns (11-15) resume includes big wins over the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls along with a few unexplained losses on the other side of the ledger to the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans and two tough defeats to the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.
If the Suns plan on turning things around this season, they must stay the course as a group and, more importantly, follow the lead of Bledsoe, who is in the middle of a career season. Through 25 games, the combo-guard from Kentucky is averaging 22.3 points and 6.5 assists a game which are both career-highs while leading the Suns in both categories.
Despite Bledsoe having a quiet personality and being more comfortable being in the shadows instead of the forefront, he has slowly morphed into the type of leader the Suns are going to need if they plan on ending their playoff drought.
“My teammates believe in me is pretty much what it is, and I’m stepping up as well,” Bledsoe said. “I’m doing the best I can coming out here every game – one of the biggest things is playing hard and giving it a 110 percent effort.”
This summer the Suns management gave center Tyson Chandler a former NBA Champion a four-year, $52 million deal to help Bledsoe and company get over the hump:
Due to his championship pedigree, Chandler knows the ingredients it takes to make a floundering team a contender. After only a few months in the Suns organization, count the 15-year NBA veteran as a fan of Bledsoe, who’s encouraged by what he’s bringing to the court on a day-to-day basis.
“[Eric] is doing a great job. Eric is one of the more talented guards in this league,” Chandler said. “I feel that he has a bright future; he’s so dynamic. We as veterans, coaches and leaders have to do a better job in helping him.”
While a lot of emerging players in the NBA tend to have a flashy side to them, many on the Suns roster have taken a hold to Bledsoe’s reserved nature and are eager to follow him while they attempt to turn things around.
“[Eric] has been a great leader he’s not really vocal but he’s been leading by example this year,” Suns backup guard Archie Goodwin said. “He’s the one guy that we really feed off of, and we just need him to continue to do what he is doing because it drives us.”