Miles Bridges – Michigan State
CPP Big Board Ranking: #16 Overall (#4 SF)
Weight: 220 lbs
Age/Birthday: 20 (3/21/98)
Hometown: Flint, MI
High School: Huntington Prep
(Grant Kobrin – 6/9/18)
Miles Bridges shocked the college basketball community last season when he decided to return to Michigan State for his sophomore season, and forego declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft where he was projected as a likely lottery pick. Now after his sophomore season, Miles Bridges is leaving Michigan State for the NBA Draft as everyone expected, and has virtually the same draft stock as he did last season. Although his role on the Spartans basketball team changed drastically during his sophomore season, his productivity on the court was essentially the same as it was during his freshman season, and his numbers speak for that. This is a very similar story to Marcus Smart, where he was a projected as a top pick after his freshman year, and returned to school for his sophomore season – without showing a drastic improvement, and his draft stock ultimately was relatively unchanged. Bridges as implied earlier, is a projected lottery selection in this year’s draft, after playing two years for Tom Izzo in East Lansing. NBA scouts are intrigued by his physical tools, such as his athleticism, strength, and explosiveness, as well as his overall skill set and feel for the game. Miles Bridges has one of the highest ceilings in this year’s draft, and having already played two years in college, makes him a little bit more mature and experienced, which should help him to make an immediate impact on the court in his rookie season. Oh, and he should be an earlier favorite for the Dunk Contest if he is invited to participate!
Miles Bridges is one of the most physically impressive players in this draft. He has good size to play either forward position in the new “positionless” NBA, he is one of the strongest players entering the draft in recent years, and he is an extremely explosive and athletic player for his size. Miles Bridges uses his physical tools and athleticism to his advantage on the basketball court, and it really impacts the way he plays on both sides of the court. Beginning with his offensive game, Bridges has a smooth, lefty jump shot that he seems to shoot with extreme confidence. His percentages last season were very good overall, where he shot over 36% from the three point line, about 46% from the field, and over 85% from the free throw line. His shooting numbers were actually a bit better during his freshman year, besides his free throw shooting where he was able to make great strides in that portion of his game. Overall, these number are very good and indicate that he will be able to shoot the ball fairly well at the next level. In terms of his scoring ability, Miles Bridges averaged right around 17 points a game during both of his seasons at Michigan State, which is very impressive and shows a level of consistency that will hopefully translate over to the NBA in terms of his scoring productivity. He is a threat offensively as a catch and shoot three pointer shooter, as a slasher and finisher (especially in transition), as a mid-range player, and lastly as an offensive rebounder. His offensive game should continue to improve and become more well rounded, and besides from his pure physical tools and athleticism, scoring should be his most translatable skill to the NBA.
As a wing, who can play both small forward and power forward positions, Miles Bridges is an outstanding rebounder. During his freshman season, Bridges averaged over 8 rebounds a game, and that number decreased to 7 rebounds a game during his sophomore season, as he played more on the perimeter for Michigan State. These numbers are very impressive, and based on his size, strength, and athleticism, it only makes sense that he will be able to rebound at a similar level in the NBA. This could turn him into a near double-double player at the NBA level. Defensively, Miles Bridges was a good defender in college and projects to be a positive defensive player at the next level as well. He showed the ability to block shots, cause turnovers, and impact offensive possessions for opposing teams at the collegiate level over the past two seasons. There are some questions about what position he is best suited to defend, and we will address that eventually, but with his overall physicality and athletic presence, he has the potential to be a solid defensive player in the NBA. Overall, Miles Bridges is an intriguing prospect because his physical presence and skill set allow for him to have star potential, and he showed the ability to be very versatile at the college level.
Miles Bridges’ main concern for NBA scouts looking at him at the next level is that he is a bit of a “tweener.” He is not a pure small forward, and is also not really a power forward either. His ball handling and overall mobility is not up to the same level as most small forwards, and his lack of some sort of interior game does not really suit him to be a natural power forward either. Defensively, it is unclear who he would be better matched up against at the next level as well. However, with the NBA continuing to become more “positionless” in a sense, this actually could eventually be a strength in my opinion. This is because he has the potential to be a good “tweener,” meaning that he could play both small forward and power forward at a high level which he did show at Michigan State, where he was a power forward his freshman year, and then became a small forward his sophomore year upon the arrival of Jaren Jackson Jr. His numbers were consistently good at both positions, and while being a “tweener” may not be ideal in the minds of NBA scouts, it actually makes him a more versatile player. Besides from being a “tweener,” Miles Bridges needs to improve offensively by becoming a better ball handler, in order to become more comfortable and productive while playing on the perimeter. Additionally, he needs to attack the basket more and not settle for contested jump shots nearly as frequently as he does now. He only averaged 3.2 free throws a game this past season, which is not good at all for someone of his size and strength. He also needs to become far less predictable on offense and further expand his overall offensive arsenal. Miles Bridges needs to play more under control and not force the issue as much, which will make him less turnover bound at the next level, as well as allow for him to look for his teammates more often.
Continuing on with his weaknesses on offense, Bridges needs to become more effective scoring out of the post, and needs to develop more touch in that portion of his game. He may be asked to post up smaller players in the NBA in mismatch situations, and he needs to be able to convert on these opportunities. Additionally, he needs to become more effective as the “roll man” in pick-and-roll situations. He needs to be more efficient out of these offensive sets. Defensively, there are obviously questions about who he is going to guard, but he showed enough potential on defense at Michigan State that this should not be that concerning. The real problem is his defensive lapses and his needed improvement guarding out of the post and on pick and roll situations. Miles Bridges needs to figure out how being a tweener will not be an issue for him at the NBA level, and needs to clean up some areas of his offensive and defensive game, but overall is still an excellent prospect.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Tobias Harris/Carmelo Anthony
Miles Bridges is most comparable to Tobias Harris. Both players can score effectively, shoot the ball fairly well, are versatile players who can play multiple positions, and are decent defensive players. Miles Bridges has the potential to be a better rebounder in the NBA and is more of a prolific athlete than Tobias Harris is, but overall this is as good of a comparison as it gets. Miles Bridges has also drawn comparisons to Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo Anthony was a better prospect at the same age as Miles Bridges though, so that would probably be more of Miles Bridges’ ceiling.
Miles Bridges had two productive years at Michigan State, and despite the lack of improvement between his two years in college, he demonstrated a level of consistency and an ability to play multiple positions and different roles on a team. Expect him to be a late lottery pick in this year’s draft where he is most likely to go somewhere in the 9-14 range, where he could prove to be somewhat of a steal in this range. Miles Bridges has star potential, there is no denying this, and this should solidify his place in the lottery despite the questions surrounding his future impact in the NBA. Expect Miles Bridges to be one of the few players in this draft class to really contribute in his rookie year, and to immediately add depth to any team’s rotation.
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