A former top 10 high school recruit and 2017 lottery prospect, Miles Bridges returned to Michigan State for his sophomore year and has not disappointed. After a rocky first 10 games, Bridges has bounced back and overall has improved his stats from his freshman year. Here is my scouting report:
Main tool: Athleticism
- Excellent athlete in the open court
- Great motor
- Solid defender- good closeouts
- Very strong
- Good rebounder- putback king
- Improved jump shot in 17-18; can score from all 3 levels
- Adequate playmaker- can create for self and always has head up when catching the ball, looking to pass first
- Off-ball aerial threat; lots of lobs thrown to him; good cutter
- Jump shot is inconsistent
- Mild frame. May be limited in positional flexibility due to relatively short wingspan (unofficially around 6’9/6’10)
- Doesn’t draw many fouls- combined 174 free throw attemps in his two seasons. For comparison, Kevin Knox has already taken 113 in his freshman season alone.
Overall, Bridges has improved his stock by coming back to school for his sophomore year. His shot creation and shot making have improved, which has made him a candidate to play some power forward in the NBA. He has excellent strength along with great athleticism, but lacks great length. In order to take the next step in his game, he must be more aggressive attacking the basket and draw more fouls.
On the defensive end, his job has been much easier with the presence of Jaren Jackson Jr. Bridges is overall an average defender, due to tools and skill. There’s not much he does wrong on the defensive end, but he is also often hidden by Tom Izzo in the defensive system. Bridges also does not do one thing near an elite level on defense. However, makes strong closeouts and has adequate lateral quickness.
Miles Bridges is a phenomenal athlete, and must learn how to use his athleticism in the half court more often. Lastly, while his jump shot has been consistent, it has improved. With a combination of a jumper and being able to score on all three levels, Bridges’ upside is phenomenal. He doesn’t have to devote as much work onto his body and improving strength, but rather can spend more time developing in-game skills such as his jump shot and potentially driving moves.
NBA Comparison: Floor/Ceiling- Gerald Henderson/ New Jersey Nets Richard Jefferson
Projected draft range: Mid-late lottery
Fit with Mavericks:
Right now, Bridges’ game seems redundant with Harrison Barnes’ game. Bridges would thrive with Dennis Smith as a cutter, but also coming off of off-ball screens for threes or as an opportunity to drive. He excels with curls, which are one of the most frequently run plays for Bridges at MSU. Bridges has a high motor and seems to be very close with coach Tom Izzo. This bodes well for Bridges, as coachability is important for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks’ system. Bridges should be able to fit with almost any lineup the Mavericks run.
The Knicks appear to be the best fit for Miles Bridges, given where they are projected to be selecting and what they need. One of the Knicks’ biggest needs is combo forward. Michael Beasley has been solid this season, and I think Bridges could come in as a rookie and produce similarly. At the all star break, Michael Beasley is averaging 13-5-1 on 50/39/77. While Beasley has the edge in 3 point shooting, I think Bridges has smart enough shot selection to play within himself and serve as a complimentary piece to Tim Hardaway JR and healthy Kristaps Porzingis. Bridges would also bring in must needed athleticism to the Knicks roster. Frank Ntilikina will benefit long-term by having Bridges, as Ntilikina finds cutters with ease, which would further Bridges’ impact on the game. Ntilikina and Bridges could ideally develop together very well and be the base for a flexible lineup, as both are able to play multiple positions.