Czar’s Season Update

WEB-Czar's Update-Breakout Stars-3DEC2013

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick

Phoenix Suns v Denver NuggetsPhoenix’s combo guard Eric Bledsoe has ignited the Suns with a blazing start early in his fourth pro season. His lightly-talented team opened with a surprising 5-2 record thanks to Bledsoe’s impressive leadership and production.

The former Kentucky Wildcat was traded to the Suns this past summer after spending his first three years with the Los Angeles Clippers. After one season in Lexington, Bledsoe was selected 18th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. Bledsoe played in 81 games for the Clips his rookie season and started 25 of them.

During Bledsoe’s second year in LaLa Land, the Clippers acquired All-World PG Chris Paul, and Bledsoe was bench-bound. In fact, he spent much of the 2011-2012 season in the D-League. Now in Phoenix, free from the shadow of the best 1-guard in the league, it looks like Bledsoe’s minutes and numbers will soar.

So far the super-athletic “Mini-LeBron James” is averaging 20.9 ppg, 7.3 apg, 4.4 rpg and 1.9 spg while shooting .552 % from the field and .811 % from the line in the first 7 contests of his 2013-14 campaign. These All-Star caliber numbers are an incredible jump up from his Clippers’ career averages of 6.7 ppg, 3 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 spg, .431 % and .739 %.

In the Sun’s hard-fought loss to OKC earlier this month, Bledsoe had perhaps the most impressive stat line of his career: 26 points, 14 dimes, 7 boards and 3 steals in 40 minutes of burn.

Add Bledsoe to your fantasy roster if you can before he slips into conversations about top NBA guards and soars out of reach.

Gameday Dish: Clippers vs. Timberwolves

Copyright 2013 NBAE - Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe 16-19 Minnesota Timberwolves host the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at the Target Center.

Tackling one of the top teams in the league will be a tough assignment for the shorthanded Wolves. They will have to play near-perfect basketball to beat this talented, veteran Clippers team.

The 30-9 Clips own the NBA’s second best record behind Oklahoma, and many consider them to be the deepest team in the league. Coach Vinny Del Negro’s squad has won 7 of their last 10 games including their last two on the road.

All-Universe PG Chris Paul missed both wins due to a bruised right kneecap he suffered in a loss to Orlando on Saturday, and he’ll likely be sidelined again tonight. Paul is averaging 16.8 ppg, a league-leading 2.6 spg and 9.7 dimes per game, which is second In the NBA.

Los Angeles beat the Rockets in Houston on Tuesday 117-109. With Paul out, third-year PG Eric Bledsoe stepped into the starting rotation and put up 19 points, 5 dimes, 7 boards and 2 steals. Also, 6th Man of The Year leading candidate Jamal Crawford poured in a season-high 30 points.

Copyright 2013 NBAE - Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been a frustrating season for the injury-riddled Wolves. Minnesota last played on Monday when they lost at Dallas 113-98.

It was the sixth straight game they played without their star Kevin Love, who is out with a broken shooting hand.

In fact, it was a fracture of the same hand that forced the team’s leading scorer and rebounder to miss games at the start of the schedule.

The 24-year-old, 2X All-Star has participated in only 18 of the Wolves 35 games. In addition, 2012 ROY runner-up PG Ricky Rubio has only suited up for 10 contests after returning from a torn ACL he suffered last spring.

The Wolves coaching staff has also taken a hit. Assistant coach Terry Porter has been filling in for headman Rick Adelman, who’s missed the past five games to be with his wife in the hospital.

Tune in to TNT at 8PM ET to see whether LA’s new varsity squad can keep rolling in the land of 10,000 lakes or if the depleted T-Wolves will improve on their 10-5 record in the Twin Cities.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Eric Bledsoe

Keep an eye on Los Angeles Clippers rookie PG Eric Bledsoe down the homestretch. The one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat, last June’s 18th overall pick, has made steady progress under head coach Vinny Del Negro.

Bledsoe spent only one season at UK, primarily playing the shooting guard because the lead guard last year in Lexington was the 2010 number one overall pick John Wall. Although Bledsoe was an SEC-er in the amateur ranks under coach John Calipari only briefly, Bledsoe played on a 35-3 squad along with four other eventual 2010 first-round NBA picks. Competing day in and day out with such heralded ballers at Kentucky gave Bledsoe a pre-pro seasoning that most collegiate hardcourtsmen don’t acquire.

61 games into his professional career, Bledsoe is averaging 6.7 ppg, 4 dimes and 3 boards and more than a steal per contest. He has season highs of 18 points, 8 boards, 13 assists, 4 swipes and 46 minutes. He has a long wingspan, better than average NBA athleticism and tons of hops. Also, at 6’1” with a chiseled 200 pound frame, Bledsoe can body up to bigger guards and stay in front of the legions of lightning-quick perimeter players who populate the league.

With the departure of twelfth-year veteran Baron Davis via trade to the Cavaliers in exchange for eighth-year PG Mo Williams and Jamario Moon, the Clippers are a team in flux around the NBA’s soon-to-be Rookie of The Year, PF Blake Griffin. With only 21 games left in the 2010-11 regular season, the Clips are 12 games out of the final spot in the Western Conference’s playoff race. Perhaps as they approach the finish line, ‘the other Staples’ tenant’ will give Bledsoe and their young guys more minutes in hopes of building toward next season and beyond.