Why the Pistons shouldn't trade for Eric Bledsoe


There has been some noise that the Pistons have interest in trading for banished Phoenix point guard Eric Bledsoe, with the reported offer being Reggie Jackson and a first round pick for Bledsoe. Normally I wouldn't give much credence to the trade rumors, as the Pistons run one of the tightest front offices in the NBA. However, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there had been at least some talks, and he doesn't make stuff up. Even though it sounds like they are a long way from it actually going through, it is an interesting thing to look at, and why the Pistons should be hesitant to pull the trigger.

Swapping Jackson for Bledsoe

In a vacuum, Bledsoe is better than Reggie Jackson is. For people who are unfamiliar with Bledsoe, as far as the final results, it is not inaccurate to say that he is basically a (much) more athletic version of Reggie Jackson, that additional athleticism does make him better, but he is the same sort of player.

The biggest area where Bledsoe overshadows Jackson is on the defensive end, Bledsoe made a name for himself at the start of his career as the defensive wrecking ball murdering backup point guards while playing behind Chris Paul. Bledsoe is long, built like a house, fast, and tenacious (when he chooses to be) which makes him a potentially dominant defender on the perimeter. Jackson has good size and the right "f-u" attitude to make good use of that size, but he is lacking in the same explosive athleticism and bulk as Bledsoe to be the same kind of defender even when he is locked in and playing hard.

Other than that though, the improvement over Jackson would be marginal. Bledsoe is a more efficient scorer, and is able to lock in to be a better defender than Jackson is able to be, (even this year's version of Jackson who has been fine defensively) but most of the complaints people have about Reggie Jackson can fairly be attributed to Bledsoe as well, some of them even more so than with Jackson. Bledsoe's jumper is even more questionable that Jackson's is, he has a tendency to over-dribble and play hero-ball too much and he is not always a great or willing passer. On top of that, he simply turns the ball over too much, Bledsoe has never even broken an assist to turnover ratio of two assists per turnover, which is far from ideal for an alleged franchise point guard. Bledsoe has been a more efficient scorer over most of his career which is another bonus for him.

Bledsoe even mirrors Jackson in his off-court history in the league. Bledsoe also was stuck behind an all-time point guard early in his career, and while never outright making a huge issue of it, it was never a secret that he wanted more than that. And while never really pinpointed as the center of a problem, Bledsoe was a part of the totally failed three-headed point guard experiment and the Suns have never had great team chemistry in his tenure there. There isn't a fire, but there is definitely some smoke with both guys.

Essentially, Bledsoe would be an improvement over Reggie Jackson, especially defensively, but the problems that come with having Reggie Jackson as your starting point guard largely remain or are even larger with Bledsoe instead.

Extra pieces

This is where it gets bumpy. If it was a straight swap somehow, then it would probably be good for the Pistons because even if it is only a marginal improvement, Bledsoe is better than Jackson. But when you start to consider the possibility of including extra pieces on top of Jackson (like the reported first round pick) is where it starts to get dicey for the Pistons. Bledsoe is an upgrade over Jackson that the Pistons may well not need all that badly, and is almost certainly not enough of an upgrade to really move the needle in a big way for the Pistons as a team, with that in mind it is hard to justify attaching additional assets, whether picks or one of the younger Piston players.

Where this could become appealing for the Pistons is the opportunity to dump some salary, likely either Jon Leuer or Boban Marjanovic, who both are centers at this point and making about $18mill between them. If the Pistons could do that then it perhaps becomes more enticing to attach a pick or other asset of some sort.

What about it becoming a mega-deal?

If you are referring to the alleged idea of (more or less) Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler coming to the Pistons while the Pistons ship off Jackson and Andre Drummond, then you can go right back where you came from. The Pistons would get a marginal upgrade at point-guard while downgrading at center, while also managing to get a lot older and add yet another bad contract to the team. Tyson Chandler can still play a bit, but he is 35.

Other than that, it is hard to say exactly what to think about some mega-deal. In all likelihood, any trade here would involve three teams regardless (as Woj reported) and if things get crazy then who knows who might jump in with additional pieces. There are so many options at that point that it isn't really even worth going into because there are way too many hypotheticals.

In the end, Eric Bledsoe would be an upgrade over Reggie Jackson, but it would be a marginal upgrade to risk overturning the chemistry and continuity that the team has built up, especially if the Pistons are giving additional assets as well.

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