2018-19 Season Rewind: Mikal Bridges

FINAL LINE 

8.3 points. 2.1 assists. 3.2 rebounds.

1.6 steals. 0.5 blocks.

43 FG%. 33.5 3P%. 80.5 FT%.

TOP PERFORMANCE 

Mikal Bridges scored a career-high 20 points against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb 2. The rookie shot 70% (7-of-10) from the field and 71.4% (5-of-7) from the free throw line while grabbing four rebounds with two assists and three steals.

LEAGUE & FRANCHISE RANKINGS

For the season, Bridges ranked first among qualified rookies and 12th overall with 1.57 steals per game. He ranked 8th overall with 129 total steals. Bridges also ranked first among rookies and tied for 20th overall with 2.7 deflections per game.

Bridges has a Steal-to-Turnover Ratio of 1.84. Among those with a minimum of 80 steals, this ranks 2nd in the NBA this season behind only P.J. Tucker (2.1) and 2nd ever by any rookie behind only Kawhi Leonard (1.93) in 2011-12.

Bridges and Okobo both recorded 5 steals in a game this season, tying Josh Okogie, Kenrich Williams and Jerome Robinson for the most by a rookie in the NBA this season.

Bridges (1st, 1.57) and De’Anthoiny Melton (2nd, 1.36) ranked first and second in steals per game by a rookie this season. In Suns history, only Ron Lee, Richard Dumas, Alvan Adams and Kevin Johnson have also averaged at least 1.5 assists as rookies with the team. The last NBA team with two rookies averaging at least 1.3 steals per game was the 2001-02 Golden State Warriors with Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson. 

MAKING HISTORY

With 105 three-pointers and 129 steals, Bridges is the first rookie in Suns history and 11th in NBA history to have 100-plus three-pointers and 100-plus steals. Bridges joins Donovan Mitchell as the only rookies to do so this decade, and Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Shane Battier, Steve Francis, Chauncey Billups, Kerry Kittles and Allen Iverson as the only rookies ever to do so.

Bridges posted numbers rarely seen by a rookie in terms of forcing steals on defense while shooting efficiently and taking care of the ball on offense. In fact, only two other rookie seasons ever have had a similar profile to Bridges in these areas and they were posted by two All-Rookie selections who would each become multi-time All-Star and All-Defensive selections (Kawhi Leonard and Eddie Jones).

Bridges has True Shooting Percentage of .556 and is averaging 2.5 steals per 100 possessions. The only other rookies in NBA history (min. 2,000 minutes) to post a True Shooting Percentage of at least .550 and at least 2.5 per 100 possessions have been Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Andrei Kirilenko, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Allen Leavell.

Bridges recorded at least one steal in 20 straight games from Jan. 19 – March 6. It was the longest streak by an NBA rookie since Chris Paul in 2005-06 and the second-longest ever by a Suns rookie behind only Ron Lee in 1976-77. His 129 total steals are also 2nd most by a Suns rookie trailing only Ron Lee.

Bridges’ 105 three-pointers made are the 2nd most by a Suns rookie, trailing only Wesley Person.

TEAM  STATS

In 41 minutes on the court together in March, the five-man lineup of Tyler Johnson, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Bridges outscored opponents by a score of 131-101, a difference of +30 points. This lineup shot 50% from the field and made 42-of-46 (91.3%) free throws.

Five different Suns rookies (Bridges, Deandre Ayton, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, Ray Spalding) each had at least one game scoring 19-plus points this season. They are the only NBA team over at least the last 10 seasons to have five rookies do so. 

End of Season Interviews: Mikal Bridges

WHAT HE’S SAYING 

WHERE TO IMPORVE: “My body. Get stronger. Mostly everything, but for sure ball handling, more shooting, a lot of technique stuff. It’s going to be a big summer for me.”

TEAMMATES WHO MADE BIGGEST IMPACT: “I think Jamal was the biggest one. Just how he carries himself and how he motivates me to keep going every day. Seeing what he does in his 19th year. Always on time, being early to things. It just shows to me, there’s no reason for me to be late to anything.”

SURPRISE IN HIS GROWTH HIS ROOKIE SEASON: “Maybe, defensively. Seeing myself really hold my own against top guys, super stars. Always have confidence in myself, but actually being on an island against someone I really know I have a chance to lock them down.”

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