Mikal Bridges Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Mikal Bridges was only the 82nd-ranked prospect in the 2014 high school class[1].
  • Through 15 games this season, the six-foot-seven wing has averaged 22.6 points per 40 minutes on 62% effective shooting.
  • Bridges has the chance to isolate against his man every once in a while out of ball reversals and sealing his man for a catch in the extended elbow but acts mostly as a spot-up floor-spacer.
    • 45.7% of his shots have come from three-point range and 94.7% of his makes from beyond the arc have been assisted this season[2].
  • On the other end, the red-shirt junior starts possessions as a weak-side defender but Villanova switches aggressively on all screens, so he has had plenty of opportunities to guard different types of players.
  • He was ranked 11th on ESPN’s top 100 as of December, 12th.

VERSATILITY

  • The 21-year-old[3] bends his knees to get down in a stance and has shown very good quickness sliding laterally several times to stay in front in individual defense. He doesn’t use the strength in his 210-pound frame[4] to contain dribble penetration but has a seven-foot wingspan[5] to reach around the opponent and make plays on the ball.
  • Bridges is agile enough to pick up smaller players on switches out on an island and on the move but might not be suited to cross-match onto them for entire possessions. He works to go over picks defending at the point of attack but can’t slide around them cleanly enough to beat his man to the spot, relying on his big teammate to prevent his man from getting downhill or turning the corner right away.
  • Bridges is strong enough to switch onto bigger players who aren’t that physical, as he’s able to hold his ground against these types playing stout post defense and boxing them out. It’s unclear if he is suited to match up with true behemoths and play some center, though.
    • He’s really only an average leaper chasing the ball off the rim – collecting just 13.4% of opponents’ misses over his 2,358 total minutes at Villanova[6].

EXECUTION

  • Bridges is attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme as a weak-side defender, rotating inside to guard two men when Villanova sets up a strong-side zone against side pick-and-rolls and helping crowd the area near the basket against dribble drives.
    • There are times you’d wish Bridges made more attempts to play above the rim as a shot blocker but he’s averaging 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes this season, so I guess that’s nitpicking.
    • He’s also proven himself very willing to draw charges.
    • Bridges uses his length to make plays in the passing lanes as well – averaging 2.5 steals per 40 minutes this season.
  • His closeouts are effective and he’s shown the ability to run the shooter off his shot, stay balanced and slide laterally to keep pace with him off the dribble.
  • He leads the team in defensive rating among rotation players[7].

SHOOTING

  • Bridges is mostly an open shot set shooter at this point of his development but quite a good one from the corners. His release is quicker than it used to be and he is getting the ball out comfortably before the opponent can closeout to him effectively.
    • He’s nailed 45.2% of his 84 three-point attempts this season, at a pace of 7.1 such attempts per 40 minutes.
    • His touch has improved every year: he’s gone from hitting 59 of his 75 foul shots as a freshman through 51 of 56 as a sophomore to 39 of 48 as a junior with half-the-season still to go.
  • Bridges is not yet a shooter capable of working around screens or pulling the trigger off balance but he has flashed some ability to make shots on the move as the trailer in transition, out of roll-and-replace, out of the pick-and-pop and drifting to the corner.
  • Attacking closeouts:
    • He doesn’t have an explosive first step but has long strides to get all the way to the basket on straight line drives and can elevate off one foot strong with some space to take flight, though he is yet to show much flexibility adjusting his body in the air for acrobatic finishes in traffic or a floater to score over length from the in-between area;
      • Bridges has converted his 76 shots at the rim at a 63.2% clip.
    • His one-dribble pull-up looks very fluid at times.

SHOT CREATION

  • He can crossover into pull-ups one-on-one but generally shows a loose handle and struggles against pressure. He can’t blow by his man on speed out of a standstill, hasn’t shown a whole lot of side-to-side shake and isn’t particularly fast with the ball.
  • Bridges can run a side pick-and-roll to keep the offense moving and set up an elbow pull-up against a big dropping back but is yet to develop into a dynamic shooter off the bounce – hitting just 37.5% of his 24 two-point jumpers this season and 33.3% of his 27 such looks a year ago.
  • He is adequate making a drop-off or a kick-out pass on the move against the defense collapsing to his drive but nothing advanced yet in terms of handling against a set defense and making passes across his body to the opposite end of the court – assisting on just 11.5% of Villanova’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season.

[1] According to ESPN.com

[2] According to hoop-math

[3] DOB: 8/30/1996

[4] According to Villanova’s official listing

[5] According to Draft Express

[6] According to sports-reference

[7] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Kevin Knox | Hamidou Diallo | Gary Trent, Jr.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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