The Phoenix Suns could use a more reliable third option offensively heading into this season. Last season at times it would be Deandre Ayton, other times it would be Mikal, along with sporadic individual performances, but mostly it was just their collective “team scoring” effort that got the job done.
In the playoffs though, it’s a lot more difficult to create buckets or consistent offense against those elite defenses when the game shrinks.
We saw that in the Clippers series at times and of course in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. While Ayton can be an outlet for easy buckets and play finisher, I think Mikal is better equipped to generate offense for himself on the perimeter for the time being given his pull-up shooting and mid-range jump shot.
“The work ethic allows for him to continue to grow. Just a tireless worker. He’s one of those guys we have to kick out of the gym,” said Monty Williams when asked about his development.
Coach Williams went on to say that “I know he’s going to continue to add to his game. I knew what he could do with cutting and moving without the ball, but now he’s got used to playing with the ball and we need him to. We want to put him in environments that allow for him to be a third option for us on any given night and I think he’s capable.”
Mikal Bridges decided to join today’s media session while Monty Williams was talking about his growth heading into this season: pic.twitter.com/vMHdTM9fVi— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) October 3, 2021
“He knows I work hard and try to get better every year. I appreciate him making me feel confident and making me be able to play stuff I’ve worked on in the offseason,” Bridges on Monty Williams’ comments during the media session.
On what he’s specifically worked on this offseason, “Just shooting a little bit better, making my handle a little tighter, getting more comfortable with it.”
That lines up with the quote he gave us on media day as well:
Mikal Bridges on what he’s worked on this offseason:— Zona (@ZonaHoops_) September 27, 2021
“Working on my handle a bit, trying to get it tighter. Adding strength, and just all the typical offseason groundwork.”
If Bridges can consistently look to attack and beat defenders off the dribble and get buckets in that mid-range area he figures to be a dangerous three-level scorer with elite efficiency.
Defenses already have to worry about running him off the three-point line and contesting his shots from deep, so if he can make them honest by attacking closeouts with a purpose then that adds a layer to the Suns’ offense that makes things interesting.
We already know he can shoot, we already know he can finish at an elite level (when he gets to the rim), so now it's just about confidence and consistency, and perfecting that in-between game.
So what say you Suns fans, do you think this is the year that Mikal Bridges take THE leap? Let us know in the comment section.