On the heels of a four-year, $90-million extension, Mikal Bridges has more eyes on him than ever. While his defensive impact continues to improve despite lower steals/game, his offensive ability has taken a step back, due to lower attempts and accuracy.
Bridges was a huge part of the Phoenix Suns’ NBA Finals run last season. He proved himself as one of the best defenders in the league, and his ridiculous efficiency from the field completed an ideal stat profile for a three-and-D wing.
Pretty absurdly great defensive possession from Mikal Bridges pic.twitter.com/rHiyL3Y1Xe
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 10, 2022
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Mikal Bridges
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What’s going on with Mikal Bridges on offense?
First off, it’s not like there’s anything seriously wrong with Bridges on offense. While his efficiency is slightly down, it’s still very strong. He’s shooting 52% from the field on 9.5 attempts per game and is hitting three-pointers at a rate of 40.6% on 3.7 attempts.
Those numbers are strong, but not quite as strong as last season when he became a top-50 player in 9-cat leagues. This season, he’s outside the top 60. Much has to do with different habits around the three-point line.
Three-pointers aren’t as big of a piece of Bridges’ shot attempts this season — making up 38.5% of his attempts this season as opposed to 47.1% of his attempts last season.
Further, he’s taking fewer threes from the corner, and making them at a lower rate. Corner three-pointers made up 59.3% of his three-point attempts last season when he shot 44.1%. This season, corner threes are 57.3% of his three-point attempts, and he’s making them at a rate of 42.7%.
Finally, his three-pointers are ever so slightly more often coming off the bounce than they were last season. This season, 96.6% of his three-point attempts come from an assist, a slight drop from 98.2% last season.
— Mingau (@PhoenixMilgrau) January 9, 2022
While a lot of these numbers represent marginal changes in his game, they help explain why it’s taking a little longer for Bridges to get into the rhythm he was in last season.
What to do with this information?
The Suns’ offense simply looks slightly different this season. Cameron Payne is taking almost four more attempts per game off the bench while Deandre Ayton and Cameron Johnson each have taken an extra attempt per game.
Folks that have Mikal Bridges on their team have nothing to fret about. It would be ideal to see Bridges taking more three-pointers and fewer from the mid-range, where his attempts have a much higher chance of being off the dribble.
This just looks like another case of a player playing just a little differently than before. If he’s able to get used to an altered shot distribution, I don’t see why we won’t see him get back up to around 54.3% from the field as he did in the 2020-21 campaign.