Prospect Preview: Miles Bridges

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

MILES BRIDGES, F, MICHIGAN STATE

Sophomore

Ht: 6-foot-6

Wt: 220 pounds

2017-18 Stats: 17.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.7 apg

HOW HE OPERATES

Miles Bridges took a little bit of heat from draft experts on how his second season at Michigan State unfolded. But, as a matter of practicality, he was good. Bridges led the team in scoring, was second in rebounding and was third in assist average. He was named an Associated Press second team All-American, and was named first-team All-Big Ten.

The issue was a slight drop in his field goal and 3-point percentages from his breakout freshman season to his sophomore campaign. Yet, analytically, Bridges’ offensive rating rose 10 points and his defensive rating improved by one point from his first to his second season. So, his impact on both ends of the court – despite a drop in field goal percentages – improved year-over-year.

Bridges, who still shot 45 percent overall, made up for a three-percent drop in field goal percentage by dramatically raising his free throw percentage from 68 to 85 percent.

Bridges is a lefty who can also finish with his right hand at the rim. On jump shots, Bridges has a little bit of a shotput release. Still, when he is square to the rim with a little bit of space, he’s a fairly deadly 3-point shooter. A team can put him in the corner right now to space the offense and expect he could nail a couple of threes during the game. But he has to improve his pull-up jumper game.

He doesn’t have a great footspeed, so he’s not beating players off the dribble in isolation circumstances. But he’s so burly that he can get to a spot anyway, take a hit and rise up for a clean look at a jumper. Bridges looked uncomfortable as a ball handler, so that has to improve.

At 220 pounds and not afraid of contact, Bridges was a good screener. Michigan State put him at power forward sometimes as well when they wanted to go smaller and create some matchup issues. Bridges can be an explosive player going to the rim, but because of some slower footspeed in the half court, it’s tough for him to get to that. In transition, however, he can finish with thunderous power. Bridges runs the court well but doesn’t always have solutions for how he’s going to score when bodies are in the way. He drives right a lot.

Defensively, Bridges can help anchor an elite NBA defense. He has good lateral quickness and keeps himself in front of the ball handler well. He’s strong and will not get bullied to the bucket. He just puts his chest out, takes the hit, and generally watches the offensive player get stopped in his tracks. Bridges is a good positional defender and fits well into the team concept. He’s not going to register big numbers in steals or blocks.

HIS BEST FIT

Miles Bridges’ ideal fit is with a team looking to add toughness and defense to its rotation without sacrificing offense. Bridges can score – Michigan State ran many plays for him – but his immediate impact will be on defense, where he projects to be a very good defender. Bridges is also a good rebounder, and can play right away for a team with scoring and playmaking around him that is in need of some hustle, solid spot-up shooting, and intangibles.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.

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