As was expected by many, Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges today announced his intention to enter June’s NBA Draft. He is likely a lottery pick.
The Flint, Michigan native entered the college basketball universe in 2016 as a top ten prospect. Expected to be a one-and-doner, Bridges averaged 17 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks on a disappointing MSU Spartan team that only garnered an eight seed in the NCAA tournament. The Spartans would win a game against Miami before falling to current NBA rookie Josh Jackson and top-seeded Kansas. Entering the 2017 NBA draft season, Bridges was considered a lottery lock and an elite forward prospect. He surprised many when he announced that he would forgo the draft and return to Michigan State for his sophomore year to learn and grow.
Bridge’s numbers this season were quite similar to those he put up as a first year in 2016-2017. He put up 17 points once again, one less rebound and half an assist more. The key difference was that this season the team around him was much better. With the addition of fellow likely lottery pick Jaren Jackson Jr and the growth of pure PG Cassius Winston, three-point shooter Joshua Langford and bigman sophomore Nick Ward, Michigan State won 30 games and earned a 3 seed in the Tourney. A promising season ended prematurely when the Spartans could not answer to eleventh seeded Syracuse and their grit and grind 2-3 zone.
Bridges is expected to fall somewhere in the mid or late lottery, landing anywhere conceivably from six to fourteen. Pundits say he shows ceiling potential as an athletic twenty-plus a game scorer who will need to improve his ball-handling, effort, and facilitating to achieve an all-star level of play that he is capable of. Even if he never exactly puts it all together, he can still be a multi-dimensioned secondary piece in the mold of Trevor Ariza or Warriors-era Andre Iguodala; the kind of passer-shooter-rebounder-defender that championship teams need. He is an ideal stretch 4 in today’s league, what with his strength, athleticism and rebounding ability/instincts.
One team that has come up as a potential destination in the draft for Bridges is the New York Knicks, who have stated their interest in drafting a forward to play between Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina and are in his realistic draft range. Other teams of intrigue that could select Miles are the Cleveland Cavaliers, looking to add a promising prospect to dissuade Lebron James from leaving in free agency, the Chicago Bulls with their up-and-coming core and the rebuilding Charlotte Hornets.