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The Emergence of Mikal Bridges

Mikal Bridges on fire as he celebrates to the crowd after hitting another three pointer

Photo by Zach Wolpin

Recently acquired Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges has been on a tear through his first thirteen games. The questions surrounding the team were who was going to be the face of the franchise and if Bridges was going to be that guy.

Two-Way Potential?

Bridges is averaging 25.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, as well as averaging 1.1 steals per game. His efficiency has been great, shooting 90% from the free-throw line (6.1 attempts), 50% from the field, and 48% from three on 5.6 attempts. These stats put him a part of the 50/40/90 club, which includes the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kyrie Irving. If Bridges keeps this up, he will join elite company.

Out of his 13 games, Bridges has dropped 30+ in five of them. Most recently coming on March 10, in an OT win on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nets’ last game against the Western Conference’s top-seeded Denver Nuggets, resulted in another impressive win where Bridges although didn’t drop 30 points, still put 25 points shooting 43% from the field and 37% from three.

During the halftime show of the New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA insider, and reporter Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned that there were four first-round picks on the table for Bridges, yet the Nets declined and want to keep him around for the long term. 

Diamond In The Rough

It is fair to say that this version of Bridges is worth at least a couple of first-round picks. The 3-D wing player is arguably the biggest want for every NBA team. But is this version of Bridges more than what was initially anticipated? He is a proven shooter from the mid-range and three-point land, as well as a more than capable defender. There have been flashes of creating his own shots and playmaking could be uncovered aspects of his game that have the potential to develop over time.

Bridges is under contract till 2026, when he will be 30 years of age, he is currently making $21 million and his final year will be $24.9 million. Currently at 26 years old, one can argue that the Nets will have Bridges during his prime and we are seeing early signs of elite play from him.

When he was traded to Brooklyn, there was some uncertainty if he would stick around due to the Nets not necessarily having a set direction as a franchise, whether that be to rebuild, retool or compete. While the current roster may lack that direction, this team is competing and pulling off impressive wins.

The Nets front office will have some decisions to make this offseason, but for the time being, it is safe to assume that Bridges and Cameron Johnson are going to be the building blocks for the franchise moving forward. However, one can wonder, if a contending team or a team looking to get over the hump and throw a lot of first-round picks for Bridges’ services.

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