With the Phoenix Suns Summer League in the rear view mirror, we can finally look at the earliest returns on the draft day trade for Mikal Bridges!
Having had the opportunty to play in the Las Vegas Summer League for the Suns, fans got their first taste of what Mikal Bridges will be like when the regular season begins. We even got to see our first head to head match-up with Zhaire Smith (who Philadelphia had Phoenix draft to make the trade for Bridges).
Although it is still very early, it is still good to keep tabs on how the trade is shaking out!
On June 21st, many Phoenix Suns fans were not big fans of the trade for Mikal Bridges. Most were concerned with the value of the unprotected Miami Heat 2021 first round pick, the main piece in the trade for Bridges that was given up. Especially with rumors swirling that it was going to be the first draft where players could enter out of high school, potentially ratcheting up it’s value.
There was little doubt that Bridges was the better player currently and for the future between himself and Smith, but has a combined 11 games in the Summer League changed that thought?
Both players statistically had average-to-sub-par Summer League performances.
Both players were similar in terms of scoring and rebounding, each grabbing about 2 per game, although Smith edged out Bridges with 7 points per game while Bridges was at 6. Smith was able to show off some better than expected court vision as he dished out 2.7 assists a game while Bridges was under one.
It would be reasonable to expect Bridges to perform much better in the regular season, especially since he only logged 20 minutes a game in Vegas in a generally unstructured environment with less-than-star talent surrounding him. It is fair to expect this too with his role as a spot up shooter and impact defender that does not create his own shot which is required for stats in Summer League.
When you look closer, you do see that Bridges was still the far more efficient player. He knocked down nearly 44% of his 3’s and 45% of his shots overall. This is while Smith shot a measly 32% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc. Bridges also showed his defensive instincts by averaging a steal-and-a-half a game with nearly a block added on.
Given that Bridges was expected to be the more NBA ready player it should be expected for him to outperform a project like Zhaire Smith, even if just by a little.
However, perhaps the most important news regarding this trade came off of the court.
Many fans are rightfully worried that the unprotected Heat pick might become a very valuable asset based on Miami’s current roster and the possibility of the one-and-done college rule being abolished prior to the draft.
News broke to help put those worries to ease as a memo was sent saying that the NBA does not expect to change the rule before the 2021 draft as previously rumored.
Overall with a respectable performance on the floor and good draft news to boot, Phoenix Suns fans should be optimistic.
Especially with the direction of the Heat seemingly trending up with no roster overhaul and a weak Eastern Conference. So long as the Heat pick does not suddenly gain significant value, the trade should still look to be on track with Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough’s plan.
Even though it has only been a little over a month you can begin to see more clearly how the pieces of the trade will look in the end. And the Phoenix Suns look to have