Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum thinks quite highly of new Los Angeles Clippers star Eric Bledsoe. So highly in fact, that McCollum compared him to an all-time NBA great.
In a recent episode of his “Pull Up with CJ McCollum” podcast, the Blazers’ vet discussed what the coming season could bring for the Clippers, particularly with L.A.’s best player, Kawhi Leonard, missing significant time. McCollum also said he expects Leonard to sit out the entire season, as Kawhi has an established history of taking his time when it comes to recovering from injuries.
McCollum also said he wasn’t surprised at all that Leonard chose to stay with the Clippers instead of exercising his player option. Kawhi signed a four-year deal worth $176.3 million that goes through 2025 keeping him around for the foreseeable future. “It was definitely expected,” McCollum said. “I felt like he was gonna stay in L.A. I felt that was a place that he wants to be.”
The shooting guard then discussed what the Clips could look like sans Kawhi in the lineup — and he hyped the addition of Bledsoe in particular.
McCollum Calls Bledsoe ‘Mini LeBron’
In mid-August, the Clippers traded Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Bledsoe, who is expected to give the second team unit a big boost. McCollum thinks L.A.’s reunion with Bledsoe will be a fruitful one in Kawhi’s absence, and when listing the things he likes about Bledsoe’s game, he evoked a comparison to LeBron James.
I’m a big fan of Eric Bledsoe. He’s like mini LeBron. Super athletic, explosive, can lead a team, can run a team. Has had some great years of basketball, especially with the Phoenix Suns. Most notably has played well with the Bucks and other teams. I think they’re in a position where, with them re-signing Reggie Jackson I felt like they had to get off of Patrick Beverley, because Reggie has played so well, especially in that playoff run … I like the Bledsoe move personally, I think he’s a good defender, he’s aggressive he’s athletic, he’s explosive. I’m not sure who will start between Bledsoe and Reggie Jackson, but any event I like both of those guards.
Naturally, Twitter had loads to say about the comparison, which has actually been made several times before, including back in 2012, when former Clippers star Jamal Crawford used the phrase to describe Bledsoe, who also himself said James referred to him as “Mini-LeBron.” It was also used in 2013, when Goran Dragic called Bledsoe a “mini-LeBron James.” Twitter users generally agreed that while the comparison may have been convenient several years ago, it no longer holds much water:
There were also several people who hadn’t heard the comparison before, and were somewhat shocked by it:
And some just had fun with it:
Is There Any Weight to the James-Bledsoe Comparison?
Not really, but it’s always fun to compare certain players, and Bledsoe does possess a few similar traits, from solid defense to crisp passing. Statistically speaking, however, there is no comparison. Last season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Bledsoe played 29.7 minutes a game, averaging 12.2 points, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 steals, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. Over his career, he has averaged 14.0 points, 1.4 steals, 3.9 rebounds 4.7 assists and 0.5 blocks. He has a career field goal percentage of 45.5%.
James, who has played 38.2 minutes a game over 18 seasons, has averaged 27.0 points, 1.6 steals, 7.4 boards, 7.4 assists and 0.7 blocks over his career while shooting 50.4% from the floor.
McCollum was clearly describing how like LeBron, Bledsoe can be a major facilitator for the Clippers next season, but Twitter still had tons to say about it.