Name: Mikal Bridges
Date of birth: August 30, 1996
Weight: 6’7” / 2.01 m
Weight: 191 lbs / 87 kg
Wingspan: 7’0.5‘‘ / 2.15 m
Team: Villanova Wildcats
+ Outside game
+ Off-the-ball mobility
+ Defensive versatility
– Creating his own shots
– Left-hand finishing
Scouting – Log
February 13, 2018
With Mikal Bridges, the upcoming draft gains a very interesting and most certainl also desirable wing player who is in his third season with the Villanova Wildcats. Bridges already was on the radar of a few franchises for the 2017 draft who saw a certain three-and-D potential in him. While he has operated at a relatively low usage rate (16.2%) and thus left a few unanswered questions in terms of his offense, he did purportedly have a draft offer from the San Antonio Spurs late in the first round. Bridges, who is 6’7″ and weighs in at 201 bls, decided to play his junior season with the Wildcats.
His draft value definitely benefited from an additional year in college since his usage rate increased to 22.4% – despite offensive role hardly changing. Bridges achieves this increase (still quite young at 21) since he trusts is three-point shot much more than in the past. At 42% for 5.6 shot attempts from three-point range, Bridges is putting up very convincing numbers. There’s no question that his three-point shot is his most lethal weapon. He hardly has any mechanical deficiencies: If so, his release could be a bit quicker, but Bridges does put the ball very high above his head. The elbow of his throwing arm points to the outside a little, but his ball handling and movement are textbook material. His stats ultimately speak for themselves.
As you can see in the second video, Bridges punishes his opponent rotating away from him immediately with his shot. His catch and shoot is spot on. He could make a slight improvement in his footwork, then the Wildcats’ number 25 is asked to set a block for a possible shot. However, Bridges compensates for this flaw with his outstanding balance after jumping. This is why Villanova coach Jay Wright also loves to run small plays for him, such as this seemingly innocuous, but very efficient pick and pop between Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo:
His shot also looks amazing when he puts the ball on the floor for one or two dribbles. This lets him punish a closeout that is too rough, which sets him apart from many other isolation-talented shooters.
Bridges is an absolute nightmare for his opponents’ defense off-the-ball. Along with his excellent shooting skills, he is also constantly on the move, keeps the help side occupied and even has a great feel for when he can cut backdoor or into space that opens up. Since the Bridges also is blessed with an excellent jump, he finishes very confidently when he is passed to close to the rim (63.9 FG%@rim).
Another skill Bridges has picked up is posting up. With his size of 6’7″, this also makes sense since coaches like to defend opposing one-dimensional shooters with their smallest, weaker defensive players. Bridges will be able to punish this, not necessary with the finish, but certainly with the decisive pass once the help has arrived.
The biggest area for improvement of Mikal Bridges’ game is creating opportunities for both himself and for others. His ball handling skills are average. He feels quite uncomfortable when forced to finish with his left hand and he avoids this whenever possible.
However, if he manages to drive with his right, then the defense is in trouble.
Bridges very rarely looks to finish in rigid one-on-one situations. Villanova has better playmakers than him.
In addition to his shot, Mikal Bridges’ skills on the defensive end of the field will be what makes him so desirable in the upcoming draft. He has an excellent understanding of the defense, moves well, anticipates situations early on, rotates correspondingly, knows his opponents’ weaknesses and is always ready to sacrifice himself for his team. His technical skills meet nearly everything that you could ask of a 21-year-old wing defender. At Villanova, he rarely defends the primary ballhandler from the start, but coach Wright lets his Wildcats switch frequently through direct and indirect picks. This is where Bridges’ skills truly get to shine: While he sometimes lacks a bit of lateral speed against smaller defenders, but generally is able to keep them in front of him, he usually fareswell against bigs.
Thus, Bridges fulfills an important criteria that NBA scouts are looking for: defensive flexibility. He will have no problems defending positions two and three and he should also be able to hold up against 1s and 4s for a few seconds; in the NBA, this is enough since the attack time is shorter than in college.
Mikal Bridges won’t be a superstar and his ceiling is limited. A development similar to Kawhi Leonard can therefore not be expected, he lacks the corresponding physical tools to do so. But what’s in this 21-year-old wing player’s favor is his crystal-clear role description: three and D.
Bridges has the talent to offer these skills at an elite level, which is why he could be compared to Danny Green, who has a similar physique. If you keep in mind that the Bridges will possibly have a few more offensive weapons, this lets you get a glimpse of what a high value he will have for any team in the future. There’s a reason that players like Otto Porter Jr. or Nicolas Batum, whose pictures Bridges has posted to his Instagram account, receive highly paid contracts in today’s modern NBA, even though they are only their team’s third or fourth offensive option.
Great Valley High School in Malvern (Pennsylvania)