“I didn’t get snubbed. I played like a** all year. I don’t deserve to be on any team. Next year will be different.” Miles Bridges tweeted this after not being selected to an All-Rookie team for the 2018/19 season. Miles Bridges has viewed Summer League as a platform to display all of the improvements he has made since the end of the NBA’s regular season in April after an underwhelming rookie campaign.
Miles More Aggressive
In Charlotte’s Summer League opener, Dwayne Bacon and Devonte’ Graham were the Hornets who shined, scoring 25 and 21 respectively. Bridges still put together a solid game, scoring 13 points on 6/11 shooting, adding 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. He was passive, turning down open looks on the perimeter and on drives to the rack. Bridges had a different approach to Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. “I think I played more freely today,” Bridges said postgame. “I tried to get in transition more. I wasn’t passing up any open shots. I was being aggressive, and I feel like everything was going my way offensively.”
Bridges finished with 23 points in Sunday’s 106-96 loss to San Antonio, going 4/9 from three (8/14 overall), and added 7 rebounds and three steals. The Hornets hit a rut in the middle of the first quarter until Miles knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to score Charlotte’s final 8 points of the quarter. Miles was aggressive in the first and continued that throughout the remainder of the game.
Bridges’ game starts with his ability to use his athleticism to score around the rim. With the spacing in today’s NBA, he can use the extra space to his advantage. He had the ball in his hands for much of this game and started a large majority of his scoring possessions with the ball in his hands at the perimeter where he either shot it off the catch (four made threes) or used his speed and strength to power by defenders for tough finishes. Miles even pulled out a nifty in-and-out dribble move for his first make of the game that got the crowd “ooo-ing.”
From watching Miles Bridges play you can immediately see that he has a high basketball IQ. When he drives to the rim, as he does so often, he has the court vision and hangtime to be able to get the ball out to open shooters on the perimeter (as he did with Josh Perkins a few times) with ease. Bridges always makes the right pass as he turned down contested shots inside to find open teammates and help get them in the flow of the game. Rookies Josh Perkins (14 points, 4/7 from three) and Cody Martin (15 points, 3/5 from three) both were key contributors off the bench for the Hornets who benefited off of a Bridges’ hockey assist on made threes.
The biggest knock on Bridges’ game is the absence of an effective perimeter shot, more specifically his three-point shot. Yesterday, he showed no hesitation to open fire from deep, making four threes on nine attempts, including a fluid step-back three at the end of the fourth quarter. As a power forward this season, he will need to knock down spot-up threes with some consistency to help open up the Hornets’ offense. He has displayed in Vegas thus far that he is confident to let it fly which is an indication he has improved.
Miles Bridges’ Role on the Hornets this Season
Miles Bridges is projected to start at power forward for the Hornets this upcoming season after starting the final 25 games of the 2018/19 season at small forward. He will play alongside Terry Rozier and Malik Monk, two high-usage guards who rely on and utilize screens to create space, mismatches, and get open. “I think the thing that Miles did well – he screen-and-rolled a little more today that he did the other night. We want to see a little bit more of that,” Hornets Summer League Head Coach Ron Nored said after yesterday’s game. Bridges echoed much of the same yesterday, “I definitely have to work on my screens… If you set a good screen, most of the time you’re going to be open.”
Miles has the frame, speed, and leaping ability to be a perfect roller to the basket if he can continue to work on his screen setting. He can use his ambidexterity on finishes off rolls and is a stellar offensive rebounder for only being 6’7″. In Sunday’s game, Bridges had two offensive rebounds that he immediately converted into easy buckets. A Rozier-Bridges pick-and-roll will be a recurring two-man play that Charlotte runs next season, and a lot of the success will stem from Bridges’ improvement on setting those screens.
Miles Bridges was seen in the dunker’s spot last year on many occasions mainly due to the fact that he had an unreliable three-point shot (32.5 percent) and was not capable of setting effective screens. Bridges has shown improvement in both of those areas this year, and if it translates to real NBA games come fall, he will be one of Charlotte’s most essential pieces on offense. If you combine his ability to get the rim with ease, a consistent three-point shot, and potent screen-setting, he will have a breakout sophomore season.
The Michigan State product has impressed thus far in Summer League, and he looks to continue that tonight at 11 pm EST against China on ESPNU.