Eric Bledsoe is probably looking around the Staples Center and saying, “What about me, ya’ll?”
All right, so Bledsoe may not have the All-Star credentials of Chris Paul but with the latest news on Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers, head coach Vinny Del Negro is going to have to continue to throw confidence and playing time Bledsoe’s way for sure.
On Monday, Del Negro updated the media on Paul’s bruised right kneecap that has kept him from playing in LA’s last four games and seven games overall due to the lingering injury. Right now for the Clippers, the only news is no new news on Paul’s knee.
He is still listed as day-to-day with no timetable in place for his return.
With a bone bruise it's just a matter of letting it calm down," and then the Clippers have to wait "until he gets out on the court [in practice] and see how he reacts," Del Negro said.
Obviously the Clippers are better off with Paul on the floor and spreading the ball around, but the way their season is going there should not be a hurry to rush him back at this point even if they just snapped their four-game losing streak by beating the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, 96-83.
On the season, Paul is averaging 16.6 points, about 10 assists and more than two steals per game (39 games) and is a primary reason why the Clippers are off to a franchise-best 33-12 record.
During Paul’s absence, Los Angeles has gone 4-2 and Bledsoe has attempted to be the one to shoulder the point guard responsibility. Maybe his last outing against Portland — 10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 0 turnovers in 36 minutes — will help solidify the confidence the rest of team is showing in him, because Bledsoe certainly struggled in a recent loss to Oklahoma City going 5 for 16 and spending much of the game in foul trouble.
Here is what Bledsoe has to remember: the better he plays, the more rest Paul receives – which in the end will only benefit the Clippers during this long NBA season. In other words, stepping up for an ailing Paul could be Bledsoe’s most important assist of the season.
We have confidence, the whole team does, in Eric," Del Negro said. "He just has to be more consistent. No one can fill Chris Paul's shoes, that's a difficult thing.
The easy thing just might be hitting the road for a little bit to buy Paul some more time.
Not only are the Clippers 13-8 on the road this season, but they next play at Minnesota — who are on a four-game losing streak — on Wednesday, Atlantic Division dwelling Toronto — who are .500 at home — on Friday, and then on to Boston on Sunday.
The Celtics will be without their star point guard Rajon Rondo (ACL) the rest of the season.
The Clips, on the other hand, can only wait and pray that is not the case with Chris Paul.