Across September, Valley of the Suns will deliver predicted stat lines for all 16 players currently contracted to the Phoenix Suns for the 2022-23 season.
Following a season in which he elevated himself into Defensive Player of the Year discussion, Mikal Bridges once again shapes as an important factor on Phoenix Suns road to success in 2022-23.
The 26-year-old proved himself ironman in 2021-22, playing in all 95 of the Suns combined regular season and playoff games. With the Suns now looking somewhat thin at the wing spot for the moment, Bridges may be asked to repeat his herculean efforts again.
Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges faces increased pressure and responsibility as he prepares to make another incremental leap in 2022-23.
With Jae Crowder exiting the franchise and no suitable replacement in line for now, the defensive pressure on Bridges is set to ramp to an entirely new level. However, one gets the sense he’ll thrive on this, and the situation may actually increase his chances of going one step further and winning Defensive Player of the Year.
While his role is paramount and certain on defense, the offensive side of the ball leaves more question marks going into the season. Bridges has increased his points per game in each of his four-year career, but that won’t be a basis on which to evaluate his 2022-23 season.
Johnson replacing Crowder may impact the defensive end negatively, but his more consistent shooting stroke should give Phoenix even more artillery power. Bridges quantity of shot attempts may suffer as a result, with the efficiency of his scoring proving most crucial.
He actually dropped off in this department last season, shooting 36.9% from three which, while still very good, paled in comparison to his 42.5% in 2020-21. Although that kind of high mark may be a stretch, hitting the 40% barrier should be a realistic goal.
Individual statistical production isn’t what this season will be about for the fifth-year man. Phoenix finished third in defensive rating last season, and with the Crowder loss likely to hurt in that respect, repeating a top three defense will be a sure fire indication of another positive Bridges season.