Phoenix Suns: Mikal Bridges is better than Deandre Ayton, according to ESPN

Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The annual release of ESPN’s top 100 player rankings is always cause for debate, and their latest one proves no exception ahead of the 2022-23 season. 75 players have been included in a ranking from 100 down to 26 so far, with the Phoenix Suns holding two players incredibly closely ranked.

Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton both played pivotal roles in the Suns historic 2021-22 regular season, before both being equally disappointing as Phoenix faded against the Dallas Mavericks in the second-round of the playoffs.

Mikal Bridges has been ranked higher than Phoenix Suns teammate Deandre Ayton in one of many debatable calls in ESPN’s top 100 player rankings.

Bridges confirmed his stature as one of the league’s elite defenders last season, with his two-way improvement giving him a nice rankings upgrade in comparison to this time last year. He was ranked 66th in the corresponding article ahead of last season, and now cracks the league’s top 50 at 49th ahead of 2002-23.

Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams
Monty Williams and Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Ayton had the most efficient year of his career last season, but it hasn’t been enough to maintain his high ranking from last season. The 24-year-old has slipped from 35th to 51st, although he did remain just above fellow big men Jarrett Allen (52nd) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (53rd).

Ranking Bridges slightly ahead of Ayton is certainly a controversial call as both players head into their fifth seasons in the league. The latter is a much more accomplished offensive player, although you could argue that’s a product of the Suns predominant pick-and-roll style.

Bridges is undoubtedly a better defensive player, but Ayton is a solid interior presence and an elite rebounder. He also garnered a greater contract coming off their rookie deals, and was rated two points higher than Bridges in the latest NBA 2K23 player ratings.

While it’s an arguable case right now, we’ll likely get a better indication of how the two compare over the course of the coming season. Bridges may hold superiority at present, but Ayton holds more upside which should lead him back to a higher ranking in 12 months.

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