In early July, Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams made it clear that his squad — despite being far out of a playoff berth — will be taking their time in Orlando very seriously. If there’s a Suns player who’s lived up to that so far, it’s second-year forward Mikal Bridges.
He led all scorers with 26 points on excellent 10/12 shooting in Phoenix’s final scrimmage on Tuesday. At just age 23, Bridges looked aggressive and mature far beyond his years. He went after the elite championship defense of the Raptors and scored with ease en route to a win. Bridges will end the scrimmage period averaging 18.7 points per game on shooting splits of 61.8/53.8/100.
Of course, the competition isn’t at 100% yet, but this surge from Bridges isn’t an accident. It might be here to stay. Before the NBA’s suspension, Bridges was playing the best basketball of his career. Perhaps his recent performances are the new standard heading forward.
If Bridges’ offensive game evolves permanently, he could be one of the league’s best young two-way players. His defense was never a concern, as Bridges has a 7’1” wingspan and plays elite on-ball defense against nearly every position. He put this skill on display with 2 steals and a block on Tuesday.
The young wing out of Villanova will likely be a key contributor as the Phoenix Suns make an improbable push for a playoff spot in Orlando. If Bridges’ strong outings continue for the rest of the season, the league will take note.