Is Mikal Bridges the draft’s top 3&D prospect?
Greetings my name is Tyler Sanders I am going to write about the 6’7 shooting guard that is a 2 time NCAA champion that played for Villanova before declaring for the NBA draft. He started off as a redshirt freshman coming off the bench for Jay Wright’s Wildcats. This shooting guard goes by the name Mikal Bridges. Bridges is viewed as an elite perimeter defender by many in the 2018 NBA draft also he is an elite 3 point shooter. 3 & D wings are a hot commodity in the NBA and nearly a must have for all contending teams. Despite being 21.8 years old there is a huge chance Mikal Bridges goes in the top 10 of the NBA draft lottery. Despite weighing about 200 pounds at 6’7 Bridges is projected to be a great NBA defender because of his defensive skill set and his 7’2 wingspan. He has the ability to switch on any perimeter player.
Mikal Bridges is projected to be a very good 3 point shooter at the next level. From his freshman year, he improved his 3 point percentage from .299 3P% all the way up to 393 3P% his sophomore year to .435 3P% his junior year at Villanova. In college Mikal Bridges proved himself to be a very good free throw shooter he never shot below 78% percent from the line. His freshman year he shot .787% from the free throw line on 1.9 attempts, sophomore year .911 % on 1.6 attempts and his junior year .851 on 3.4 attempts per a game. His total points per a game jumped to 6.4 his freshman year to 17.7 his junior year. One knock on Mikal Bridges game is he not someone who is a strong ball handler and he does not create for others. This gives him a lower offensive upside than other guards possibly in the NBA draft lottery.
Mikal Bridges possess very good shot mechanics combined with excellent efficiency. He also has a very good shot selection. He is an excellent catch and shoot player behind the 3 point line. Overall he is bad at creating his own shot. Bridges mechanics are good he has Unorthodox shooting mechanics where he starts his shot from the left side of his head instead of the right but he is consistent & efficient. He possesses good touch and is very good at setting his feet to shoot. Bridges almost always uses the hop to get in rhythm & set his feet well, combined with wide feet set with excellent balance during the shot. Averaging 6.0 attempted three-pointers a game Bridges has great efficiency knocking down 43% percent of them. Off screens Bridges can be deadly he has great elevation coming off the screens and he releases the ball very high which is his shot’s biggest strength due to his mechanics and long arms. This makes it very hard for defenders to contest his shot. Bridges does not need much time and space to shoot, He also can make tough contested shots.
Off the bounce, his jump shot is not good. He has the tools to be a good of the bounce shooter (high release point, shooting touch). These traits can create reasons for optimism to be more than a 3 point shooter. Bridges developing pull-up jumpers would make him a completely different player. He cannot create space for himself without dribble moves, many times he has to settle with shooting over the top of players. He is not consistent mechanic wise shooting off the dribble his balance is not consistent when he is attempting catch and shoot shots. He lacks the ability to change direction quickly and suddenly explode into his shot. He has no sudden change of pace going into his jump shot to unsettle his defender which forces a lot of tough/contested shots over defenders. With no means to create separation and such predictability of how he is going to create his shot. The questions arises will he be able to create his own shot against taller, longer more athletic NBA defenders? A question about Bridges jump shot materializes how much is his jumper the real deal. With his unorthodox mechanics and setpoint results can be random despite hi shooting such a high percentage (Lonzo Ball). He does have a good sample size 350 attempts the last 2 seasons on 42 % from deep. On shots he misses a lot them tend to be short and shows that he sometimes loses power in shot could this be a concern going into the NBA?
Overall Mikal Bridges is an average slasher at best his explosiveness is average, Fluidity & body control average. His ability to get to the free throw line is average. In transition he is average. Finishing at the rim average. One trait that he has that’s good, he possesses long big strides although he is not overly quick not mainly a driver, but on straight-line drives, he can get to the rim at times. Due to Bridges great ability to hit three’s when defenders close out hard. He’s able to start his dribble & attack the rim. Near the basket, he uses his 7’2 wingspan very well to score over and around defenders. Has the ability to stretch out to make layups with either hand. Overall Bridges does not possess elite explosiveness. Mikal Bridges lacks horizontal explosiveness. He is not quick and regularly struggles to blow by his defender. This could be very concerning if he is matched up with quicker and bigger defenders. Bridges also has a lack of technique and feel on drives. All his drives are straight line drives he is a very average ball handler at best no change of pace or hesitation moves driving to the rim, average footwork & coordination. Can get out of control at times. Nearly 22 years old and 3 NCAA seasons of basketball can he make improvements in this department?
One of Mikal Bridges strengths is his defense. He is possibly the best perimeter defender in the 2018 NBA draft class. Overall he is a very solid defender on defense he has very good effort level which is an upmost importance when playing defense. He also possesses good Discipline & fundamentals. He is an excellent defensive playmaker and has very good off-ball defense. In Isolations, Mikal is a capable of guarding the ball well. It is tough for the offensive player to get around him with his great length/size and solid mobility. Bridges in NCAA play has shown some limitations on the ball. With his thin frame, he sometimes struggles when defenders attack his body. He possesses average lateral quickness at times he struggles to stay in front of NCAA athletes. Which are not as explosive & quick as the ones in the NBA. A big question mark for Mikal can he improve his quickness? Bridges has an average stance he is unbalanced at a high rate and he is high on his knees. His lack of quick feet hurt him in changing direction quickly & staying in position. He can be flat-footed at times allowing the offensive player to beat him off the dribble.
Defensively Mikal lacks power and strength. Good size at 6’7 and great length with a 7’2 wingspan. But he possesses a thin frame and he does not handle contact well. He is almost 22 years old with no significant progress in bulking up. Can he bulk up at the next level? Surprisingly Mikal is undisciplined in many ways he goes for the big defensive play like steals and blocks even when he shouldn’t. He is a willing defender but somewhat lacks discipline. He can get himself out of position at times gambling for steals this causes Mikal to not be in front of his opponent and opening up driving lanes. When he is late behind the play he goes for the block a lot of times even when it’s an obvious foul. In the low post, he lacks strength vs Big Men. He gets bumped under the rim to easily. He has the skill set to be a small ball 4(length/size+shot). The question is can he hold his own versus NBA power forwards and bigger stronger players? When Mikal is switched on to a big he cannot offer any resistance sometimes the resistance is so bad opposing bigs score before a double team can be formed. He gets pushed around in the paint easily even when he is trying to box out. This can cause big concerns going into the NBA.
In the pick & roll, he can defend them well but he is slightly inconsistent. He has good footwork & technique to move through screens. When going through screens Mikal starts with his inside foot this helps him to go over screens better. He has the ability to stay attached to the player when a pick is set on him. He lacks the strength and physicality to fight threw screens regularly. He makes mistakes in pick & roll defense making him an average to good pick and roll defender. Many cases Bridges avoids contact and goes behind the screen allowing space for the opposing player to shoot or drive to the rim. His lack of physicality causes him at times to not be able to get in front of screens quickly enough. Bridges is a good defensive playmaker and he excels at creating turnovers. He has quick hands good instincts and uses his long arms well. He always contests passing lanes with good hands (At times he has the ability to do this without getting out of position). Team defense wise he is a good help defender. His willingness & intelligence make him a great off-ball defender with good focus away from the ball. He possesses good defensive IQ and understands team defense. He has great timing on help defense many times forcing the opponent to kill his dribble. An issue that Mikal has in team defense is over helping this makes him vulnerable to be out of position. Is this the case because of Villanova’s schemes or is it a flaw or tendency that he has. At times he leaves his man too soon allowing easy shots and passes for the opposing players (gives up to much space) Mikal looking to create turnovers can come at the price. It makes him drawn to the ball more often allowing the man he is supposed to defend to get open shot’s.