Predicting Mikal Bridge’s 2019-20 season with the Phoenix Suns

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images /

After an exciting rookie season, Mikal Bridges looks to be another key building block for the Phoenix Suns. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect for his sophomore campaign.

Most people forget the Phoenix Suns second-year player Mikal Bridges was actually the 10th overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft.

Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers, Bridges was ecstatic to go to the franchise not only located in his hometown, but also the team where his own mom, Tyneeha Rivers, worked for.

As is the nature of the business, that all changed in a matter of thirty minutes.

During his opening press conference with the 76ers, Bridges was traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the 16th overall pick (Zhaire Smith) and an unprotected 2021 first round pick. Instead of heading home, he would be headed to Valley.

But jumping to today, Bridges has already proven that James Jones made the correct decision on draft night.

Not only did Bridges play in all 82 games for the Phoenix Suns during his rookie season, he also made 56 starts for the team. The 6-foot-7 guard averaged 8.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field.

And even more was his impact of the defensive end of the court.

While Bridges projected to be a solid defender, he dazzled in his rookie year with the Suns. Bridges ranked eighth overall in the NBA in steals with 129, easily leading all rookies as well.

Not only was Bridges locking up more older and experienced players, but he was showing how valuable of a piece he will be in the future. At 22-years-old, Bridges is already one of the best young defenders in the NBA.

It was that consistent and strong effort that eventually got Bridges chosen as a member of the USA select team this summer.

Looking forward to next season, there’s going to be a lot more opportunity for Bridges to shine, but there’s a catch: it’s going to have to come from the bench.

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After a busy offseason by Phoenix, including acquiring a much-needed point guard, it looks as though all the starting five positions will be filled next season. That projected five stands at Ricky Rubio-Devin Booker-Kelly Oubre Jr.-Dario Saric-Deandre Ayton, leaving Bridges as the odd man out.

But that also means that Bridges can take on the role of the sixth man for the Suns, the role many expected T.J. Warren was going to take.

That’s a great spot for the versatile guard-forward, who can defend from the 1-3 with no problem.

That’ll also mean having Booker on the bench won’t hurt Phoenix as much as it had in the last two seasons. Giving Book a breather will allow Bridges to play more minutes and develop his game to a greater level.

While Bridges might not reach the 29.5 minutes a game he played during his rookie year, turning in an efficient 20-25 minutes will even more valuable for the Suns.

And who’s to say that someone isn’t going to miss some games next season leaving Bridges to step in start again for Phoenix.

While his shooting numbers may also go down, it won’t be due to Bridges’ play.

Last season Bridges took about seven shots a games, but with an increased depth on the Phoenix bench and Tyler Johnson most likely running the point, Bridges attempts will most likely decrease.

But building off his rookie season, Bridges should continue to climb in the league’s leaders in steals. Look to him to average about two steals a game.

Prediction of final stat line: 80 games, 7.2 PPG, 45% FGP (35% 3-pt), 2.0 SPG

Next. Phoenix Suns 2019-20 player preview: Tyler Johnson. dark

While Bridges won’t exactly suffer a “sophomore slump”, because his style of play isn’t as reflective based on numbers. The guard will continue to suffocate players on defense and prove himself as a necessary piece of the Phoenix Suns’ future.