A look at Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe

He’s always had the athletic gifts, but now he’s started to develop point guard habits, finding open cutters and shooters, connecting with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan for lobs. He looks much more comfortable controlling the offense than ever before.

Bledsoe has been a statistical anomaly so far this season. His per-36 minute stats are in line with his starting numbers, suggesting he could be an All-Star candidate with increased playing time.

He started — and performed well — during Paul’s recent injury stint. He averages 18.5 minutes with Paul having returned to the starting lineup. With more traditional shooting guards on the roster — Jamal Crawford, Willie Green and now a healthy Chauncey Billups — Vinny Del Negro has opted to mainly deploy Bledsoe at point guard, and rarely alongside Paul.

“I just come in and provide that spark that we need to get everybody involved,” Bledsoe said.

“He’s a good defensive player. He likes to play center field and gamble,” Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said after a recent loss to the Paul-less Clippers. “He’s got great quickness and great athleticism. … Just that aspect of his game, his athleticism, is what creates problems.”

Though he’s generously listed at 6-foot-1, Bledsoe has a deceptively long 6-foot-7 wingspan and a 40-inch vertical, allowing him to steal passes and block shots most players his size aren’t capable of reaching. “Bledsoe is a very good pressure guy,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said earlier this season. “If you turn your back on him and expose the ball at all, they’re going to get it.”

– Reported by Jovan Buha of ESPN Los Angeles