Hornet’s forward Miles Bridges is off to a terrific start this season with career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. The fourth-year professional has made great strides to become the player he is today. One must first look at the early stages of his career if they wish to fully understand how Bridges has been able to go from scoring 11 PPG (points per game), to scoring 19+ points in 75% of his games to start the year.
Coming into the league, Bridges was an athletic freak of nature as he always posed as a major threat in transition catching lobs and making jaw-dropping plays that got the fans on their feet. Another part of his game was the corner three. His shot was a little flat so the corners (being a shorter shot than the top of the key) seem to be best for him particularly. Miles also understood simple concepts such as moving without the ball. This led to Bridges hurting opposing teams primarily in transition, the corner three, and off cuts.
The New and Improved
A large portion of Bridges’ newfound success lies in his ability to create his own shot. His handles have improved to the point where he is consistently able to break down a set defense to get to where he is most comfortable as a scorer (the mid-range). This is a newer element to his game. His jump shot mechanics are not bad. Miles Bridges does a good job of getting his elbow in line and feet squared to the rim, but he is still more comfortable in the mid-range than the three-point line (probably due to his flat shot that was stated previously). As well as exposing defenses in the mid-range, he also started punishing defenses in the post. Bridges has a strong off hand (his right) which allows him to have a variety of moves to go to and keep the defense guessing in the post. He uses his 225 pound frame to power through his man, shoot a hook shot, or nail the occasional fadeaway. With this new impact as a scorer (as the defense now pays more attention to him), it allows him to get other players involved too. Miles has been selfless when the defense shows help, and finds the open man consistently which has led him to averaging 3.4 APG.
Miles Bridges’ improvement has surprised many, including myself. Coming into the NBA I expected him to be the guy he was in his first three years… primarily an off the ball threat as a scorer and needing others to create for him. Most forwards do not become advanced ball-handlers if they did not show signs of it in college, but he has gone against that notion and taken his game to an exciting new level. Bridges is now one of the most thrilling young players to watch as now he not only makes the highlight plays, but the winning plays as well. If he keeps improving like he has been, there is no doubt that an all-star appearance will be in his future.
Article written by Bradley Patten
Edited by Connor Sinadinovic
Stats found on Basketball Reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bridgmi02.html)
First photo – photo credit to Kent Smith (https://www.atthehive.com/2021/4/26/22404725/miles-bridges-is-way-more-than-just-a-human-highlight-reel)
Second photo – photo credit to Neil Redmond (https://clture.org/miles-bridges-dunks/)
Third photo – photo credit to Nathaniel S. Butler (https://www.gettyimages.dk/detail/news-photo/miles-bridges-of-the-charlotte-hornets-handles-the-ball-news-photo/1236109239)
Fourth photo found on Yahoo Sports (https://sports.yahoo.com/report-miles-bridges-turned-down-033101718.html)