Why Bridges is broken and how the Phoenix Suns can fix him

Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges does a lot well on the basketball court. However, the Suns’ wing has struggled to step up with injuries mounting, and something must be done.

Phoenix swingman Mikal Bridges is one of the prototypical 3-&-D players in today’s NBA. Bridges is strong defensively inside and out, he can rebound well for his size, and when his touch is on, he is a better-than-average spot-up three-point shooter. Unfortunately for the Suns, with injuries mounting, Phoenix needs more than Bridges has been able to give, and he is seemingly breaking under the pressure. So what is wrong with and how do the Suns fix Bridges?

Poor shooting performances hurting Bridges’ overall game

Confidence is a significant factor for all athletes, and when players are taken out of their comfort zone, their confidence can be shaken. This push beyond his comfort zone is a big part of Bridges’ struggle.

Traditionally, Mikal’s offensive game is predicated on others. Bridges scraps his way to 15 points per night in transition, through movement, and with spot-up three-point shots. Unfortunately, none of those options are consistently available for Bridges.

Bridges is doing more defending and spending more time trying to rebound than ever before, making it difficult to get out in transition. Plus, there is no transition if you always take the ball out of the basket.

Since all of the primary ball handlers for the Suns are hurt or nursing injuries, no one can beat their defender to create passing lanes for cutting players or spot-up shooters. Bridges’ movement and shooting are nullified without someone getting in the paint.

On top of everything else,  teams are game-planning for Bridges, with Devin Booker and Chris Paul out. The fact that teams are planning for Bridges makes his biggest offensive weakness even more prevalent: a lack of a go-to move.

If we think about great scorers, whether it is Harden’s step-back, Jordan’s fade-away, or Booker’s midrange pull-up, players that score consistently have a way to do that on their own, but Bridges does not. Scorers, natural scorers have something to fall back on when they are not scoring; Bridges has never needed nor developed that weapon in his Arsenal.

Maybe the most consistent item in his repertoire is his little pull-up when driving left of the lane, but we have not seen that in a while; teams are planning for that move. The result is Bridges stuck mired in a terrible shooting slump, but it is fixable.