You know when you’re sitting outdoors and there’s that pesky mosquito that won’t leave you alone and you can’t escape its annoying swarming no matter how hard you try?
That’s Phoenix Suns third year forward Mikal Bridges on the basketball court.
Teams crave a player that’s extremely versatile and willing to do it all. Each roster around the league needs a guy who accepts one of the NBA’s most daunting tasks with a smile.
Why is he smiling? Well, he’s really good at it. They call him “The Warden” for a reason.
The man spends every game locking up the opponent’s top offensive weapon. He’ll trace their steps, battle over ball screens and shout commands to his teammates on where they need to be. Yes, the best scorers find a way but man, will they find the utmost resistance.
Mikal doesn’t care who he’s going up against. Face him off with the best player on the other team. It doesn’t matter what position they play. He’s ready to bother them and make them earn any points they are able to get.
It was evident from the first moment he stepped on the court for Phoenix that he is smart and a team player and that he would no doubt contribute on the defensive end. However, he has developed offensively and made a bit of a jump there.
On paper, the easiest improvement on the eyes is his three-point shot which has lifted his scoring average several points. Through his first two seasons, he made 34.5% of his 3.3 three-point attempts per game, averaging 8.3 and 9.1 points respectively his first couple campaigns. This season so far, he’s making 39.8% of his 4.9 three-point attempts each match, good for 14.1 points per game.
However, it’s not just his growth beyond the arc as he’s strengthened the team’s offense with spacing, cuts and his off the ball movement as well. Mikal is turning into a solid scorer and it’s done wonders for the team.
Deandre Ayton down low and Chris Paul running the show while Devin Booker continues his offensive attacks on anyone daring to come up to him are clearly all significant factors in the Suns’ success.
However, Bridges being able to find his opportunities on O while remaining a force on D cannot be talked about enough. The noise they’ve made so far and will make in the playoffs will be in large part thanks to him too.
Take a look at these statistics.
This season, when he scores less than 10 points, Phoenix has a 3-5 record. When he gets at least 15, they’re 9-2. The nights he gets 20 points or more, they’re 5-1.