Nets’ Mikal Bridges Reacts to Knicks’ Game 2 Win, Shouts Out Former Teammates

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks.

Despite it being the offseason for him, Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges is enjoying the basketball being played in the playoffs, particularly by some of his former teammates.

“Them Nova boys different,” the Nets star tweeted on May 2 after former teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart helped guide the New York Knicks to a bounce-back win in Game 2 of their second-round series against the Miami Heat.

In the 112-105 victory, Brunson finished with 30 points – 10 of which came in the fourth quarter – adding five rebounds, two assists, and two steals for good measure. Similar to Bridges since being traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Nets, the 26-year-old has been a revelation for the Knicks, thriving in an increased role compared to his time with the Dallas Mavericks.

Not to be outdone, Hart fell just one assist short of a triple-double finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.

He also hit the dagger three to keep the game out of reach in the closing minutes.

Like Bridges and Brunson, Hart has stepped up his game following a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, albeit to a lesser extent. He most notably has gone from connecting on 30.4% of his triples for the Blazers to nearly 52% with the Knicks. Brunson and Hart were not the only Wildcats in action on the night, either.

Former teammate Donte DiVincenzo plays for the Golden State Warriors.

He did not put up a gaudy stat line in the Warriors’ 117-112 loss like his former teammates did going scoreless in a little over 12 minutes of action on 0-for-1 shooting. But he did snag three boards, dish out a pair of assists, and came up with two steals as well.

Jay Wright: Mikal Bridges ‘Could be an All-Star’

The NBA readiness of these former Villanova players is not an anomaly. In an era of one-and-done players – which has progressed to skipping college for the G League in recent years – all three of them spent at least three seasons learning under Jay Wright who has raved about the upward trajectory of Bridges.

“He recognizes that that’s what this team needs, and he’s very comfortable doing it,” Wright said, per Steve Serby of the New York Post. “And he does throughout his career when his team needs it, but he’s always been on good teams.”

“I think he could be an All-Star,” Wright said. “It just depends on how they need to use him.”

It’s not just Wright or even his own coaching staff that remains high on the 26-year-old’s potential as he has turned even rivals into believers.

“Brooklyn views Mikal Bridges as a cornerstone building block looking ahead,” reported Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on April 23. “Rival NBA executives and scouts..echoed that stance and believe Bridges is a candidate to become an All-Star for the first time next season, given his current trajectory.

On that trajectory, Nets general manager Sean Marks declined to put any sort of ceiling on what Bridges can become given he’s already surpassed expectations and proving that he is more than just a (really good) 3-and-D player.

Bridges showed improvements in his ability to create for himself after arriving from the Suns in the trade that sent out Kevin Durant from the Nets. But creation for others is certainly a step that could lead to that All-Star prediction from his head coach coming true.

Mikal Bridges’ Other Former Teammates

Bridges’ former team has found itself in an unfortunate way, down 0-2 against the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference Semi-Finals showdown.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway has been the lack of perimeter defense without Bridges or Cameron Johnson around. Phoenix also traded Jae Crowder in that deal only to flip him to the Milwaukee Bucks. After Milwaukee got bounced in the first round by the Boston Celtics, Crowder expressed his confusion over why he did not play much seeing just 41 minutes across their four contests.

“Eleven years,” Crowder said, per the Milwaukee Sentinel. “Check my résumé. I’ve been playing. I’ve always been playing. “I’m very confused as to why I was brought here. I don’t know my purpose here and why I was brought here.”

Crowder’s situation shows how the grass is not always greener and how fortunate the Nets and Bridges are that their partnership has been more encouraging so far.