Name: Miles Bridges
School: Michigan State University
Height/Weight: 6’7, 229 lbs
Miles Bridges is an elite – level athlete with an incredible amount of versatility on both sides of the floor. He averaged almost 17 points per game for Tom Izzo as a freshman and was the biggest name who chose to stay for another year of school this past spring.
Bridges’s athleticism and strength make him a nightmare in transition and on straight line drives to the basket. He is very active getting up the floor after a turnover or rebound and shows soft hands and impeccable body control on finishes.
Perhaps what makes him most intriguing as a prospect is his ability to stretch the floor. Bridges shows deep range and comfort from 3 point range and can hit it with regularity. He averaged over four 3 point attempts per game while having over 8 rebounds per game. Only 5 NBA players from last season can say that. This doesn’t say much in terms of his projection but it does speak to his versatility and ability to affect the game inside and out.
Bigger, slower wing-men will have trouble guarding Miles Bridges due to his ability to attack closeouts and slow feet with strong dribble drives left or right handed. On the finish he uses his strength and levitation to get an advantage on would be defenders.
Bridges is a willing defender with a high motor. His patience as a shot blocker (2 per 40 mins) combined with his above the rim ability will make him an excellent force on help defense at the next level. I also found myself impressed watching his IQ in defending pick and roll situations. Pick and roll is not run as often in college but is a heavy NBA attack tool. Miles is agile enough to switch to and bother smaller guards whether they choose to drive or take a jumper. He also shows a willingness to switch back to his man after a strong hedge. This alone will make him valuable at the next level.
Miles Bridges shot 38% from 3 in college but his 62% mark from the free throw line has produced skeptics. Free throw shooting isolates a player’s shooting stroke and eliminates outside factors. This makes free throw shooting a strong indicator of how a player will shoot from range in the NBA. It will be interesting to see if his 3 point shooting efficiency remains despite his poor stroke from the line.
Speaking of the foul line a player of Bridges’s caliber should definitely spend more time there. His 3.3 attempts per game are shockingly low for a player of his physical nature and ability. As the numbers suggest, Bridges can settle for too many jump shots of questionable quality.
My biggest question going into this year for Miles will be about his ability to put the ball on the floor and create scoring chances vs quicker competition. He struggles to change direction when cut off on straight line drives and is not a comfortable back to the basket player as of yet. His .565 points per possession in the post places him in the 16th percentile of post players in college last year. In order to beat smaller and quicker defenders, he is going to have to become more willing to use back to the basket play to get his shot off. Also, he lacks the ball-handling ability to consistently create his own shot. A lot of his damage was done off the ball in 2016-2017.
Bridges has great physical stature but possesses an underwhelming 6’9 wingspan that will make it difficult for him to extend over taller defenders and also defend vs longer opponents.
Miles Bridges would’ve likely been drafted in the lottery had he decided to enter the draft this year. His staying an extra year will most likely make him a top 10 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. At best he will be an effective off the ball wing that can average a double double every night while stretching the floor for his team. His high IQ perimeter defense will be important in today’s pick and roll NBA who can guard multiple positions defensively. He will prove to be one of the few players who can be productive within the flow of the game and not need any plays run for him.
If Bridges struggles it will be due to his 3 point shooting being a fluke and revealing a poorer than expected jump shot in addition to his undersized wingspan making it difficult for him to guard other small ball power forwards.
Potential Draft Position:
Top 10 in the 2018 NBA Draft