Mikal Bridges entered the Summer League with all eyes his way. He showed that the Phoenix Suns are getting exactly the type of player they expected.
After a surprising draft night trade that saw the Suns acquire the draft rights to Mikal Bridges for the 16th pick and Miami’s 2021 unprotected first, Bridges needed to prove he was worth the steep price.
Summer League is the perfect time to overreact to all things NBA. The top picks have the spotlight, which comes with pressure to perform. Going tenth overall meant every move Bridges made would be carefully scrutinized,
Bridges showed exactly what was expected of him coming out of Villanova. He’s a three and D type player with solid athleticism and substantial length. At 6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan, Bridges is able to elevate and get a shot off with ease.
After shooting 43.5 percent from deep in his final year at ‘Nova, Suns fans should be excited about his floor spacing ability. Bridges sunk four of five from deep in his Summer Suns debut vs. the Dallas Mavericks. He doesn’t need much space either, as many of those looks were well defended. He even showed a quick little side step that got him open for a corner bomb as the defender blew by him on the closeout.
On offense, we can expect Bridges to mainly sit in the corner spotting up for a quick shot. He also showed a keen sense of cutting along the baseline and even did so in crunch time against the 76ers in the elimination game loss. With a somewhat limited offensive role, he won’t be counted on to do much ball handling or creating for others.
Bridges really works hard on the defensive end. Not only did he defend the perimeter as well as expected, he also showed that he’s vocal leader who can help get the defense set. His high IQ was on display as he jumped numerous passing lanes en route to 1.6 steals per contest for the five exhibition games. Bridges also tallied four blocks over the short stint.
Mikal Bridges seems to know his role, and he plays it well. He didn’t try to do too much or play outside of his game. His playing style has a mature feel to it. His role with the Suns next season is clear.
One area for concern is his rebounding numbers. Although he played exclusively at the two and three in Summer league, GM Ryan McDonough has previously said that he will get some minutes at the four.
The Suns have built a very wing-oriented lineup around number one pick Deandre Ayton. A lot of lineups will feature Ayton with four perimeter players spread around him a la the Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic teams. Bridges needs to rebound. His college numbers weren’t awful, as he averaged over five boards a game at Nova. He needs to get that number up for the Suns to be able to compete on the glass going into the season with a smaller lineup.
No overreactions are needed here, as Mikal Bridges looks just as advertised. He will be a high value role player – a three and D specialist who can come off the bench and defend at a high level.