Like an NBA version of Forrest Gump, Eric Bledsoe has unwittingly played a key role in this year's battle for the title. How? Follow the bouncing draft pick. Bledsoe was taken with a pick that originally belonged to the defending champion Miami Heat, who traded it to the Oklahoma City Thunder to clear enough cap room to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The Thunder too could have had Bledsoe, but they picked him for the Los Angeles Clippers, who gave them a future first-round pick.
As Bledsoe developed into a key contributor in L.A., Oklahoma City used that pick as part of the trade for Kendrick Perkins that vaulted the Thunder into last year's Finals.
Now, another Bledsoe trade could tip the scales again. Blocked by Chris Paul, the 23-year-old Bledsoe is the Clippers' best asset as they consider upgrading their starting lineup for a run at knocking off West favorites Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Just what kind of player would teams such as the Boston Celtics (for Kevin Garnett) or the Utah Jazz (for Paul Millsap) be getting? Let's take a closer look at Bledsoe's game and future.