By B. Doody
With the NBA Draft being headlined by one and done freshmen, Mikal Bridges comes into the draft ready to contribute from day one. Bridges has been a contributor all three years at Villanova on his way to winning two national titles. The Villanova Junior has 116 collegiate games under his belt, and that experience should be beneficial for any team he plays for. Bridges has the potential to be the prototypical 3 & D player that every team covets in the modern NBA.
Standing 6’7″ with a wingspan of 7’0″, Bridges has the length to guard shooting guards, small forwards and many power forwards. His long arms allow him to get into the passing lanes and contest jumpers. He should be able to contribute defensively from year one, which is very rare for a rookie. Offensively, the 6’7″ wingman can shoot the basketball from deep. This past season at Villanova he hit 43.6% of his threes on 6 attempts per game. Bridges also shot 51.4% from the field and 85.1% from the line, which shows how consistent of a shooter he is. He really looks to take good shots in the flow of the offense. He knows himself as a player and doesn’t try to be someone he isn’t. He is a limited yet smart ball handler, with a 2.4-1.0 assist to turnover ratio. Bridges went from 10 PPG to almost 18 PPG from his sophomore year to his junior year.
Bridges stands 6’7″, but weights in at only 210 pounds. He will need to add muscle mass to compete better both offensively and defensively. Added strength would allow Bridges to attack the basket more and not rely on someone else to get him his shots. Right now he is a straight line dribbler who goes predominantly right. He could use a summer of ball handling drills to really focus on creating his own shot. Bridges is already 22 and there is some worry that he has fully maximized his potential while at Villanova.
Bridges is a lock to be a lottery pick. I could see him going as high as eight to the Cleveland Cavaliers if LeBron James stays and the team wants to compete now. Bridges would be ready to help a contender who has a deadly ball handler. The Sixers at pick 10 seem like a great match as well. The 76ers need another deadly wing shooter who can defend. Simmons would get the ball to Bridges in open space to knock down his shot. At pick 11, the Charlotte Hornets could use a vertical wing with range to give Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard space to work. The Los Angeles Clippers with the 12th and 13th picks are just looking to add talent. Bridges is the perfect floor spacer and defender to create some versatility for Doc Rivers.