New Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges spent the last two-plus seasons playing alongside 18-year veteran point guard Chris Paul with the Phoenix Suns and the lessons learned during that time apparently rubbed off.
During the Nets’ 118-96 victory over the Houston Rockets on March 7, Bridges showed off an interesting part of his arsenal.
It was Paul’s signature “rip through” move drawing a foul to get to the free-throw line.
The Nets were already up 75-59 at the time in a game they did not have to sweat much against the lowly Rockets. But Bridges – who has increasingly shown consistent flashes of his ability to be a centerpiece – did something Paul has done plenty of times to not only put more points on the board for his team but also put the opponent further behind the eight-ball.
It certainly got the attention of Paul – whom Basketball Reference has as a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame when his career comes to an end – as he retweeted the video to Bridges’ apparent approval.
“We got a really tight-knit group over here,” Paul said via the NBA Action YouTube channel on February 10 reflecting on the trade that also sent Kevin Durant to Phoenix. “I talked to Kal on my way to the game today. I think the friendships, the bonds that we done made, that’s sometimes rare in this league.”
Paul said that their relationship “won’t change”.
Bridges finished with at least 30 points for the fifth game in a row adding five assists, two blocks, and one steal for good measure.
“Mikal is – I mean they don’t use this term for basketball – but he’s, I guess, the equivalent to a five-tool-type basketball player where he does a little bit of everything,” Nets wing Joe Harris told YES Network after the win. “Offensively, he can definitely carry the load for us. But he always makes the right play though too. If he’s not getting a bucket for himself he’s making a play for somebody else.
The 26-year-old swingman is averaging 26.5 points on 66.5% true shooting with 5.3 boards, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals in his 10 games as a Net. Bridges is a talented player combining tremendous talent with hard work and it’s endeared him to his teammates and coaches.
Mikal Bridges’ Impact on Nets, Suns
Bridges veritable tribute to Paul comes after the latter’s backup, Cameron Payne, showed similar respect to his former teammate.
After knocking down a shot from long distance during a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 24, Payne did Bridges’ customary celebration earning himself a shoutout from the Nets wing.
Like Harris, teammate Cameron Johnson – who also came over from the Suns – and Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn have both raved about Bridges’ impact.
“Mikal Bridges is open-minded but at the same time has a consciousness about him that he can communicate with his teammates,” Vaughn said via the team’s YouTube channel on February 15 following a win over the Miami Heat. “Extremely pleased that he’s a part of our future going forward.”
Nets Facing Could Face Bidding War for Mikal Bridges
If this past trade deadline was any indicator, the Nets could see plenty of outside interest in their rising star. The Memphis Grizzlies offered four first-round picks for the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up only to be rejected.
There could also be interest from the Houston Rockets who could offer intriguing younger talent as well as return some of the draft picks the Nets gave up for James Harden.
That would free them up to choose their own path forward.
To Bridges’ credit, it won’t be an easy decision leaving the burden on any potential suitor to make an offer that is simply too good for the Nets to pass up.