The KD-Kyrie era in Brooklyn is officially over. While many view the four years as a failure, it’s great that the franchise is moving on to bigger and better. In both trades, the Nets acquired some great additions that could make a big impact on the franchise for years to come.
Through only a few weeks, Mikal Bridges has looked as if he can be the franchise player. During his tenure with the Nets, Bridges has been the focal point on both ends of the floor and has expanded his offense in numerous ways. After leading the charge in a 28-point comeback against the Boston Celtics, Bridges shows the ability to put a team on his back in pressure situations.
In sports, every player must play their role for the better of the team. During Mikal Bridges’ tenure with the Phoenix Suns, he wasn’t known as having this elite offensive package. While playing alongside Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Ayton, Bridges was the fourth option in scoring for Phoenix. He was known as a three-point sniper who can also be an elite wing defender. Situation matters in basketball. Once Bridges was traded to the Nets, he had a bigger opportunity to showcase his true talents.
Before I begin to praise Bridges’ offensive performances as a Brooklyn Net, let’s also acknowledge that he brings toughness and tenacity. As mentioned in the paragraph above, Bridges is one of the NBA’s best wing defenders. With his long wingspan and athleticism, he gives offensive players a difficult time scoring against him. Adding Bridges to the Nets rotation elevates the defensive side of the ball alongside players like Nic Claxton, Ben Simmons, and others.
The production that Bridges has continued to give on the offensive end has been stellar. He’s done a terrific job of leading the offense by scoring off the dribble while setting up his teammates for easy opportunities. So far, one of my favorite sights during his Nets’ tenure is Bridges' connection with Claxton on the pick and roll. It’s an indication that Bridges continues to be a fan favorite in the locker room despite his short time with the team.
I’m sure the 45-point performance against the Miami Heat caught everyone by surprise. The contest became Bridges’ breakout performance as he shot the ball efficiently from the mid-range area. However, his career performance only set him up for a big-time moment against the Boston Celtics on the road. Trailing by 28 points in the second quarter, Bridges was the leading factor behind their comeback with 38 points and 10 rebounds. What makes these performances impressive is Bridges’ ability to be a leading factor against some of the Eastern Conference Contenders. It’s another indication of his deep playoff experience that allows him to compete at a high level and set the tone for the rest of the team.
Despite the departure of two superstars from the franchise, the Brooklyn Nets can still become a playoff team. They have the right pieces to their roster who can compete on both ends and provide a spark on the floor. As for Mikal Bridges, the Nets have found their new franchise player. It should be essential for team head coach Jacque Vaughn to allow Bridges to be the team’s number one option and allow him to blossom into an All-Star caliber player.