When it comes to most young players, the fans of their team are usually more inclined to have a higher view of him that the rest of the league at large – displayed in drastically uneven NBA Trade Machine proposals and references to impressive yet innocuous performances on random nights in January.
However when it comes to Miles Bridges, the sides of the debate are actually reversed. Though the rest of the league remembers the All-Star Rising Stars MVP performance and the ferocious dunks he gives on a weekly basis, Charlotte fans are more likely to have a critical, sometimes cynical opinion of Miles as he comes into his 3rd year as a pro.
A lot of these criticisms of his game are fair, Bridges has even said as much himself, and it’s that character and ability to be his own biggest critic that influences many (most notably those around him) to believe that down the road he’ll be able to get it corrected.
The main problem for him to overcome is heightened given it’s importance in his role, that is his ability to shoot the ball. He is 33% on 3 point shooting for his career so far, which though already not ideal gets even more worrying when you dive deeper into his splits.
To be taking the most catch and shoot 3’s on the team and making them at such a low clip? A less than ideal situation, but one that will have to improve for Bridges to keep clocking big minutes for this team – especially given the number of initiators now on the team who’ll need to rely on him to get these shots to fall.
Whilst Bridges’ minutes will naturally go down due to his new role coming off the bench, making way for newly acquired Gordon Hayward to enter the starting lineup, the hope is that it could end up being the making of him.
His connection with new star LaMelo Ball was clear over the pre-season, and indicated that playing next to a guard with his style handling the ball may be more conducive for success for Miles going forward.
Defensively, the hope is that we’ll see less of the mental lapses that have caused issues over the last couple of seasons. It’s clear that Bridges has the build and makeup of a strong defensive player, but now the onus will be on him to start going out there and proving it as he grows more experienced as a player. Now that coach James Borrego has other strong defensive options at the forward positions with Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington and the Martin twins – the big question will be if Bridges can prove himself as someone you can play in those important crunch minutes, rather than a liability who the opposition will pick out to attack.
With a big summer coming up in 2021 as he becomes eligible for big money, this 3rd season will be huge in determining whether the former 12th Overall Pick is someone GM Mitch Kupchak will want to have in his long term plans. The issues he needs to correct are laid out, and with his attitude and will to succeed as outlined earlier, I wouldn’t want to bet against him getting it fixed and developing into a strong player for the team. He’s one of the easiest players to root for on our team, and I’ll be cheering for him hard this season.