Coming out of Huntington Prep in West Virginia, Miles Bridges was ranked 12th on 247sport’s list of top high school prospects in the nation. In 2016, Bridges decided he wanted to move forward in his career under the coaching style of Michigan State University’s head coach, Tom Izzo.
Just two years later, and a decision to return for his sophomore season, Bridges is one of the most highly touted prospects coming out of Michigan State in quite some time. As Bridges prepares for the 2018 NBA Draft, let’s look into the things that could potentially help or hurt him in becoming a household name in the NBA.
Standing at 6’7″ and a weighing it at about 225 pounds, Bridges versatility allows him to play many positions on the court. Even though he is known for playing the forward position, his quickness and athleticism allow him to step up against quicker guards if needed. Bridges is used to playing both forward positions whether that brings him on the perimeter or in the post. Even though he is undersized against most of the big men that he has played against, his strength allows him to be a formidable inside force on both ends.
Not only is he versatile at his position, he is versatile with his play style. Bridges can do almost anything with or without the ball. With the ball, Bridges is able to use his explosive bounce to get to the basket and finish through contact. His inside game helps him a lot as he is able to post up and then sneak out for the spot up three. Shooting 40 percent in his collegiate career, Bridges inside and outside game would help any team who drafts him. Bridges also set nearly perfect screens on opposing teams. His ability to run the pick & roll almost to perfection as the roll man helps get his him and his teammates an open shot.
Miles Bridges is a workhorse. Even though he was undersized most of the time playing inside, Bridges does anything he needs to do to get the rebound. Bridges averaged about seven rebounds per game in his final season at Michigan State. He knows the rebound battle won’t be won on height alone so he gets creative with his positioning inside. He knows that he needs to get in the right position on box outs and use the right mechanics to get the rebounds. Because of his mechanics and his explosiveness, Bridges loves to go up for the put-back opportunities.
Oh wait, and Miles Bridges also recorded the game-winning putback dunk. NBD ?
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) July 7, 2017
Miles Bridges is your typical Michigan State Spartan, but even better. Michigan State basketball players are known for having high basketball IQ, being super gritty and doing more than expected in college. But they do not really grasp their true potential in the NBA. The jury is still out on Denzel Valentine, Gary Harris, Bryn Forbes and Deyona Davis. There are some Spartan players who had tremendous success in the NBA like Zach Randolph, Draymond Green, Steve Smith, Jason Richardson, Kevin Willis and of course Magic Johson but there are many who get trapped purgatory-like state between college and the NBA. Remember Kalin Lucas, Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Maurice Ager?
Bridges has a high basketball IQ on the court and understand schemes more than the typical player. It’s blatantly clear he spends time watching film and studying playbooks. Those after hour activities will really bring him to another level in the NBA.
Bridges plays above the rim. His explosiveness helps him perform plays that any fan will love. In fact, Bridges might think of himself as the next Vince Carter.
— Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges) May 22, 2018
Bridges is very confident in his play style. His leadership ability helps both his teammates and himself get something going. Bridges is the man that wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. He knows how to get the crowd and his team going. He does not have a true position but in today’s NBA, that might be one of his strongest attributes. Not having a true position, he can basically be anywhere on the court. Switching off screens, almost no matchup will be a mismatch.
Though Bridges has high basketball IQ, he does not always show it. When trying to create plays for himself or his teammates, it seems as if he doesn’t know what play to make. When forced to dribble the ball, Bridges does get lost with it. He averaged about two turnovers per game in his Michigan State career but it is apparent that he often struggles to create when given the opportunity. To be fair, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo might not have put him in the best place to succeed in that realm either so the jury could still be out on Bridges ability to create.
In today’s NBA you want to surround your guys with shooters so that they can make plays to get the open shot. This year’s Spartan squad did not feature many true shooters and it could hurt Miles Bridges’ adjustment to his new team. Playing in an unfamiliar situation could affect Bridges confidence or focus.
Miles Bridges is always willing to try his hardest to do anything he needs to do for his team, but that might be his biggest downfall. Bridges sometimes will try to do too much for his team sometimes trying to play the hero when it’s not really the best option at the time. His will to win may force him to throw up off the dribble shots. He will also need to adjust his game for the NBA’s pace and longevity and be sure to not burn himself out too early in games.
In a worst-case scenario for Bridges, he will be the sixth or seventh man on an NBA team. His knowledge of basketball will help him learn throughout his career. But ideally, he could be the second or third option helping his team make long runs throughout the season. Averaging 17 points per game at Michigan State, Bridges has shown he doesn’t mind carrying the offensive load for a team in need.
NBA Comparison: Jerome Kersey
Comparing Miles Bridges to late, great Jerome Kersey is the best fit, even though they are from different NBA eras. Both players stand at 6’7 and 225 pounds. Their body structure puts them as basically the same person. Like Bridges, Kersey was very explosive and undersized. Kersey used his mechanics and basketball IQ to be a good player in the NBA, similarly to what Bridges does already in his career. Kersey used his inside game to help create other parts of his game and that skill should help Bridges on the next level. Both players are workhorses and if Bridges helps an NBA team like Jerome Kersey did throughout his 17 years in the NBA, that would be a success for the Michigan State Spartan.