Mikal Bridges was the guy coming out of Villanova, winning two NCAA Championships and being a great scorer from all three levels. When he was traded to the Suns on draft night, he was reduced to being a defender and spot-up shooter.
Bridges would flourish in his role as he was the fourth option on a team that went to the NBA Finals. He was shooting 50 percent from the field, 38 percent from three, and 85 percent from the free throw line averaging 12.2 points with the Suns. In 2022, he finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
He was destined to be more than just a 3-D player in the NBA, and he finally got his chance when the Suns traded him to the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Durant. With a full season ahead of Bridges on the Nets, there are three reasons he will take a huge step forward.
3: Volume Efficiency
One thing that separates the stars in the NBA from the role players is their ability to do things efficiently at a high volume. Every great player in the NBA can score the ball efficiently from at least one spot on the court, whether it be at the rim, the midrange, or from the three-point line.
Before Mikal Bridges got to the Nets, he scored at a high efficiency because he was the fourth option on the Suns. When you have great scorers on your team, your looks will be much better, making scoring easier.
On the Nets, Bridges went from being the fourth option to the first option. That is two entirely different positions to be in because defenses focus on you more when you’re the first option, making it harder to score efficiently.
In 2023, his shots per game went from 13.6 attempts with the Suns to 18.6 attempts with the Nets. Bridges’ three-point shot attempts went from 4.7 a game with the Suns to 6.7 attempts a game with the Nets. His usage rating went from 19.2 percent in Phoenix to 30.3 percent in Brooklyn.
If you’re not capable of being a great scorer, usually, this scenario causes your shooting percentages to go down, but Bridges’ stayed pretty much the same. The Villanova product was shooting 46.3 percent from the field with the Suns compared to 47.5 percent with the Nets. His three-point percentage was 38.7 percent with the Suns compared to 37.6 percent with the Nets.
The fact that Bridges’ shot attempts went up and his shooting percentages were still really good is a clear-cut sign that he is ready to take a big step forward this season.