When the Hornets selected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the 11th pick last year I was thrilled because that’s who I personally wanted Charlotte to select, ultimately that pick was flipped to the Clippers for their 12th pick, Miles Bridges. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly hurt when this happened, but I’ve been really content with Bridges after his rookie year. Bridges didn’t have the most dynamic rookie season, but he showcased a lot of promise and he should be a key building block moving forward. I talked about his potential earlier this year but here, I’ll dive into his entire season.
Bridges put up pretty modest stats this season: 7.5 points per game, four rebounds per game, and 1.2 assists per game on 46.4% shooting from the field, 32.5% shooting from three, and 75.3% shooting from the free throw line. Earlier in the year, Bridges flashed some high level three point shooting but this tailed off as the season went on. However, during the Hornets’ 8-4 stretch at the end of the season, Bridges shot 40% (18/45) from three. The three point shot is the key offensive skill for Bridges because it will allow him to utilize his athleticism and attack closeouts. I’m very bullish on his shooting as he has a great shooting form, and I think a lot of his misses this year were more so due to him getting acclimated to the NBA game rather than him being a poor shooter. I can definitely see him shooting 36-40% from three on a decent amount of attempts for his career.
Speaking of that 8-4 stretch, that was some of his best play of the season. Bridges scored in double figures in eight of those 12 games including a 20 point effort in a win against the Boston Celtics and an 18 point effort in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bridges also saw an uptick in his rebounding and averaged almost six rebounds a game during that stretch. In addition, Bridges averaged nearly three assists a game during the stretch, flashing some unexpected playmaking skills. The encouraging thing about this stretch is that it came while the Hornets were deep in a playoff push. Bridges wasn’t discouraged by the moment and instead, raised his game to the next level.
Bridges is still learning and will only improve as the season goes on. He showed a lot of flashes on defense but he still gets lost off ball or by head fakes from quality scorers. It was his rookie year though so we can cut him some slack. Based on his flashes, he looks to be a guy who can switch 1-4 and occasionally provide some weak side rim protection.
Bridges didn’t think his play was all that good this past year though. Or at least not good enough to make an All-Rookie team.
I disagree with our guy’s assessment but this sentiment shows that he is ready to work. He is looking to improve a lot and I believe that he has the ability and mindset to do so.
Overall, I think Bridges’ rookie season was impressive. He wasn’t put in the best situation with the lack of talent on the Hornets roster but he showed a lot of flashes that we can definitely build on for the future. He should also be our starter at small forward going forward, let him continue to figure it out. I can’t wait to see him in summer league this year because I’m sure that he is going to come in and dominate and hopefully It will be a lot more of this next year:
Overall Grade: B
I loved the promise that Miles showed this past year and if everything goes right he should be one of our top players as soon as next season.