Russell Westbrook reacts to passing Isiah Thomas in all-time assists
The sun sets in the East, and fifth-year forward Mikal Bridges has made a star turn since being sent to the Brooklyn Nets.
A Villanova product that’s improved yearly, it’s somewhat surprising that he’s rarely been discussed as a potential go-to scorer. Instead, flying under-the-radar under the guise of high-end role player.
Regardless, everything happens for a reason, and the Nets have given Bridges an opportunity to shine that the Phoenix Suns did not. In fact, Bridges has displayed a level of two-way dominance that’s legitimately on an All-Star level since being traded to Brooklyn.
Bridges averaged 17.2 points per game on a 57.4 true shooting percent for the Suns in 2022-23. He’s averaged 25.8 points per game on a 64.7 true shooting percentage with Brooklyn.
Furthermore, he’s also clearly the top dog these days. Just compare his 28.0 percent usage rate as a Net to his career usage rate of 14.7 percent across the 365 regular season games he played for Phoenix.
Now — as one might expect — the Nets are “pleasantly surprised” with the way that Bridges “has elevated his game,” per Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
So much so that they’ve even started to draw up plays for him to knock down shots from his spots.
One such spot is the elbow, a favorite of Nets former focal point Kevin Durant. Per the NBA’s official stats, Bridges has converted 45.6 percent of his shots from 10-14 feet away from the rim. He’s made 42.5 percent of his shots that are away from 15-19 feet away from the rim this season.
Filter out the games he played with Phoenix, and Bridges has been shooting 49.1 percent on shots 10-14 feet away from the rim. He’s shooting 47.8 percent on shots 15-19 feet away from the rim.