Eric Bledsoe says guards ‘weren’t competing’ during Suns’ early season struggles

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The Suns got off to a slower-than-expected start to the regular season, and Eric Bledsoe thinks he knows the reason why.

Phoenix began by winning just 12 of its first 26 games, after finishing last year with 48 wins, and just a game out of the playoffs in the highly-competitive Western Conference.

The Suns have found their way recently, however, winning eight of their last 10 while posting quality victories over teams like Toronto, Washington and Dallas.

So, what’s changed? If Bledsoe is to be believed, it’s that he and his teammates are now bringing it on a nightly basis — something that wasn’t true earlier in the season, at least in his eyes.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

“When we added Isaiah into the mix to Gerald (Green), guys were thinking about how they were going to score,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Now, they’re just playing. They’re playing and sharing the ball. When Eric and Goran are out there, that’s two huge weapons that teams have to deal with and they’re both playing great.” …

Bledsoe said they took “a look in the mirror” about how they played last season. They seem to be recapturing that, showing chemistry instincts that come with familiarity.

“When we (were) losing, I think our guards, me in particular, weren’t competing,” Bledsoe said. “I thought every time somebody came in, we pretty much went out there with a nonchalant attitude. (In Sunday’s win against Toronto), we just were playing and competing every minute, all 48 minutes.”

It’s an honest look at things from Bledsoe, whose opinion should matter most since he’s one of those living in the situation.

But there were other factors that contributed to the slow start in Phoenix.

The loss of Channing Frye in free agency to the Magic was a big one offensively, as his floor spacing and ability to play credible pick-and-roll defense on the perimeter wasn’t easily replaced. Then you had three true point guards in Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and newcomer Isaiah Thomas all finding their way with each other, while Hornacek experimented with different rotations — which was something that Dragic admitted early on was no easy task.

If you add all of that to guys giving less than maximum effort as Bledsoe seemed to indicate, it can obviously affect a situation rather negatively, to the point where it will take longer than necessary to figure things out.