Often one worry on the young players leading in their first postseason.
Are they going to produce the same way they did during the regular season? They will walk under the brightest fire they have ever experienced in his professional career? They will be ready to deal with schemes and adjustments you don’t see it because a series dictates a level of familiarity that you don’t establish with your opponents in the normal way season?
And somehow, he never had the feeling that Mikal Bridges would be crushed. He never felt like such moment he would have swallowed it whole.
Maybe that’s all great-game experience he accumulated while at Villanova. In his freshman season, he was the seventh man for the National Championship winning the Wildcats, averaging 6.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game during the 2016 NCAA Tournament, while shooting 63/43/80 games from the field. , three, and free-throw line. As a junior, and in his scouting season, the 6-foot-7 winger became the MVP of the Big East Tournament after scoring an average of 22.7 points in the tournament while shooting 62/55/91, and even played All-Conference- level defense. ‘Nova also won the national title that year, and Ponti was named in the All-Tournament team after placing 15.5 points per game over the 47/44/85 divisions.
It may have been “just the university,” but it didn’t hurt.
He came straight into the NBA and was a significant player, placing 8.3 points and 1.6 rebounds per game while making 56 starts and appearing in all 82 games as a rookie, averaging 29.5 minutes per contest. Last year, has gradually improved. Ma this season, Bridges put together a regular season strangely similar to another then-young, two-way winger emerging as a star in his role: Kawhi Leonard. And, no, Bridges isn’t like that, but it’s a trajectory that someone in their position should aspire to, because it’s similar.
Bridges won’t win the MVP Final, as Leonard did in 2014, so we slow down and acknowledge that, but the parallels in impact for every third-year player add up (in the regular season) in a way that you probably wouldn’t have anticipated it.
In 2014-15, Leonard posted 12.8 points / 6.2 rebounds / 1.7 rebounds in 52/38/80 split for a Western Conference Champion.
In 2020-21, Bridges posted 13.5 points / 4.3 rebounds / 1.1 rebounds in 54/43/84 split for a Western Conference Champion.
In the playoffs, Leonard was at 14.5 points / 6.7 rebounds / 1.7 rebounds in 51/42/74 splits.
The bridges, so far, are only 11.8 points / 4.3 rebounds / 1.0 rebounds per 47/36/92 divisions … so he has some delays to do here, but he probably won’t. needed alongside Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton, among others.
But Bridges has an immense impact on both ends of the board at the start of his career, which is the point. His 27-point lead last night didn’t quite understand what he could become, and typically these two-way youngsters with early playoff times finally become stars, like Leonard, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and others in front of him. On a team with Paul, Booker and Ayton, we might not need to, but we’ll know later this summer, when he is eligible for the extension, which the Suns have provided for him. (That is to say, with Ayton also admissible on the extension, and the free agent suspending Paul.)