Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets
November 16, 2023: Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets shoots vs. the Miami Heat. Image via the Brooklyn Nets

What Made Mikal Bridges a Good Brooklyn Net?

Mikal Bridges is coming off a career year. Despite the Brooklyn Nets missing out on the play-in this year, Bridges was one of their bright spots. Given the keys to the offense, Bridges averaged 19.6 points per game, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. The sixth year wing out of Villanova shot 43.6 percent from the field, 37.2 percent from downtown and 81.4 percent at the free throw line. The former Wildcat is the current iron man of the NBA as he has yet to miss a game in his six year career. While his teammates have dealt with debilitating injuries, Bridges powered on.

What’s made Mikal such a great player? The film tells the tale.

Primary work

As the primary scoring option, Bridges has been given the green light to take any kind of shot.

On this isolation play, Bridges attacks the size mismatch and goes to his post game. He gets to his spot, turns to his left shoulder and hits the fallaway shot. That’s been a key piece to his offensive development.

Bridges has played on the ball much more than he has in previous years.

Here, Bridges initiates the offense and calls for a ball screen. He splits the two defenders and steps foot into the paint. From there, he uses the side-step move to evade the shot blocker and finishes at the rim with his off hand.

Bridges has also played off the ball, something that he was accustomed to while with the Phoenix Suns.

Bridges’ defender takes his eyes off him and Mikal relocates from the wing to the corner to get in his teammate’s sight line. As a result, he catches the ball and knocks down the corner 3-pointer on the move.

Bridges’ two way impact

Throughout his career, Mikal earned the reputation of being one of the best defenders in basketball. He made All-NBA first team defense in 2022.

While he has not primarily guarded the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis, he can still make defensive plays at a high level.

On this play, Alex Caruso drives and Dorian Finney-Smith peels off the corner to protect the rim. Bridges now has to split two shooters on the weak side of the floor. He has eyes on the ball, successfully splits the two shooters and steals the basketball off the potential drive and kick.

On the ball, you can see his individual defense shine through:

Bridges navigates over the screen and gets back in front of Paolo Banchero. He slides his feet as Banchero takes him to the post. Mikal has an incredible wingspan to block Banchero’s shot and he just smothers the shot. That’s the growth of Bridges after being known as a “3 and D” player in Phoenix.

What’s next?

The night before the Draft, it was announced that Bridges will be traded to the New York Knicks for six first round picks. Mikal is joining his Villanova teammates Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte Divincenzo on the Knicks. After being the primary scoring option in Brooklyn, Bridges will likely go to his “3 and D” role that he had in Phoenix. He

The Nets are heading into a full rebuild. In addition to that trade, the Nets also did this

With their draft picks back and a treasure trove from the Knicks, Brooklyn is in full control of its destiny. For the first time in over a decade, the Nets will (likely) have a pick in the Lottery. This gives Sean Marks and Nets management the chance to properly rebuild and create a sustainable, long-lasting team for the future. The team will be worse without Bridges in the short-term. However, the long term benefits might make it all worth it. We’ll see how things develop from here.