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Case Study: Mikal Bridges is one of the best defenders in the NBA

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges is making a name for himself in the national spotlight of the Bubble

Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I was curious to see what could Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges raw and advanced defensive statistics look like compared to his peers aftger four games in the Bubble. And boy is it pretty!

Below is a chart with Mikal’s numbers, rankings and percentiles in main defensive categories among players who:

  • Have played at least 3 games in the bubble
  • Have played at least 20MPG
  • Play one or several spots at the 2-3-4 but are not bigger guys (PF/C), focus on wings, point forwards & big forwards.
  • Defended at least 40% as many total shot attempts as Mikal

Decoding the chart below: purple is GOOD, yellow is average and blue is bad.

Here is a link to the google doc.

We can clearly see that Mikal has been pretty elite at most of these categories in the bubble. The only other NBA player present in the bubble who has the same profile as Bridges & compares numbers-wise is Pascal Siakam.

Just like the Deandre Ayton / Anthony Davis parallel I made a few months back on their defensive impact, I can safely say today that players who share the same defensive profile as Mikal are... very few and far between. Kawhi Leonard didn’t fair according to his standards in the DFG% categories compared to what he’s capable of so let’s put him here. Him and Mikal look a lot alike defensively imo. Ditto Giannis who can’t be ignored as a multifaceted ultra efficient & prolific defensive player (for me he’s DPOY material). He looks like a giant Mikal on defense. He’s The Greek Freak after all.

Funnily enough here comes Jerami Grant again, just like in my previous study of free agent forwards this offseason compared to Mikal/Kelly I did a few weeks back. Grant has an astoundingly similar defensive impact than Mikal. He just looks a bit bigger and more athletic but presents very similar traits.

Mikal Bridges would be a shoe-in All-Defensive Teamer if it was only for the bubble so far. Maybe a case could even be made over the 2020 calendar year (when Mikal became a regular feature in the starting-5 logging 30-35+ minutes per game).

Enjoy folks ! We got ourselves another ace ! 

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