3 reasons Mikal Bridges is the Brooklyn Nets’ next star
When the Brooklyn Nets had to trade their two superstars, the team’s immediate future looked rather bleak. A rebuild was put in motion, and that usually means a lot of tough stretches and many, many losses. The Nets, however, might have already found their next star.
The idea of getting Mikal Bridges in the Kevin Durant deal is what made the trade bearable in the first place, but by now, landing the Suns’ forward is looking more and more like a homerun. Bridges has widely exceeded expectations, looking like he is turning into the Nets’ next centerpiece right in front of our eyes, and here are three reasons why Bridges can be the Nets’ next star.
3. Bridges is evolving into a true three-level scorer
On a healthy Phoenix Suns team, Bridges was confined to limited scoring options. As a result, he was often dubbed a 3-and-D player, but Bridges is so much more than just that. He is, in fact, shooting exceptionally well from behind the arc, averaging 47.9 percent on threes over 13 games with the Nets. The same efficiency is now noticeable all over the court, however. Over his first ten games with Brooklyn, he put up 51/49/90 shooting percentages and became the first player in NBA history to average at least 25 points while shooting that efficiently over their first ten games with a new team.
Currently, Bridges averages 25.7 points per game, which exceeds his career high by around 8 points. During his recent scoring outburst, Bridges recorded at least 30 points in six games, including a 45-point performance in a win over the Miami Heat. Defenses struggle to contain Bridges all over the floor. Especially noticeable is his increase in volume and accuracy of mid-range pull-up jumpers.
This is a move Bridges likes to resort to when defenses cut off his way to the rim, but he is also capable of going all the way and drawing a foul. Compared to his time in Phoenix, Bridges has been getting to the foul line much more often. That is a valuable asset for the Nets, who do not have many players who get to the line as frequently as Bridges or make free throws at quite the same high level.
A lot of Bridges’ growth into a three-level scorer has to do with the fact that he gets a lot more touches now than he ever did before. With the Suns, the priority was not to put the ball in Bridges’ hands, but with the Nets, that is starting to become the offensive mission. Nevertheless, Bridges isn’t just putting up empty numbers for Brooklyn. Quite often, his scoring has translated into wins, as the Nets now have a 6-7 record since the trade. These six wins include hard-fought victories over two of the best teams in the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics.
Furthermore, an increased amount of shot attempts usually leads to a drop-off in efficiency, but Bridges is proving to be the exception to the rule here. He has not only been taking more shots but also tougher ones since defenses now often set their best defenders on him, and yet, his efficiency has actually improved.
Even against the Milwaukee Bucks’ strong defense, he shot 57.9 percent on field goals, 42.9 percent from three, and 85.7 percent from the free throw line in a loss at the beginning of this month. Further contributing to Bridges’ efficient start with the Nets is the fact he is only averaging 1.5 turnovers over 13 games despite his increased number of touches and newfound responsibility.