Is Mikal Bridges the Brooklyn Nets next star?

Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Will the improved scoring be a trade-off for Bridges’ defense?

As the offensive load of Bridges was expected to ramp up with the Nets, the concern was will he be able to exert the same effort defensively as in previous years.

If you’ve paid attention to Bridges’ whole career, the first thing that comes to mind is probably his stout defense. Being a member of the All-Defensive First Team last season, he must be in the discussion of the best defensive wings we have in the game.

Having said that, the math now changes as Bridges will be handling a larger role in the scoring department. The decrease in his steals (1.2 to 1.0) and blocks per game (1.0 to 0.8) since switching teams in the regular season isn’t something to be concerned about just yet. Again, the perfect gauge would be how he performs in the postseason.

Checking the numbers, it was glaring to see that the Nets thrived better on defense while Bridges was riding the bench. According to PBP Stats, in the 157 minutes Bridges was on the court, Brooklyn had a 119.93 defensive rating that resulted in a -15.1 net rating. Inversely, their defense becomes good, only allowing 101.5 points per 100 possessions to the opposition in 35 minutes.

It also might be realistic to say that Bridges didn’t have a consistently positive impact on that end in the whole series, as the numbers indicated. But it’s worth noting that the doubling scheme of the Nets on Joel Embiid played a role in it. He wasn’t able to focus on a specific assignment because his focus was on being the second guy on the NBA MVP or rotating to the player helped off by those doubles.

Bridges’ best defensive game considerably was in Game 3, as he disrupted both on the ball and the actions off the ball. Unfortunately, the stops he generated only came in glimpses as the Sixers swept the Nets.

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The uncertainties that loom about having Mikal Bridges as the main piece geared toward the future remain valid. Flaws are still apparent, and the small sample size fuels the skeptic chatter. The answer to the question is up to Bridges himself to answer, which starts this offseason. Keeping an eye on him should be a must for all Nets fans.