During the Phillies’ 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros on April 30, Bridges made a declaration about catcher J.T. Realmuto who tied it at 1-1 at the top of the second inning with what was his third home run of the season.
“BCIB,” Bridges tweeted on April 30, a reference to Realmuto being the best catcher in baseball.
“Since 2018, Realmuto’s first All-Star campaign with Miami, he has led all catchers in FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement and has led all qualified catchers with an .825 OPS,” wrote Andy McCullough of The Athletic in 2021. “He averaged 23 homers in his last two full seasons, with 11 more in the 60-game campaign of 2020. There are catchers who hit for more power, and there are catchers with better skills at framing. What separates Realmuto is his capacity for excellence in both disciplines.”
“The catcher position’s gotten so much more athletic in the last 5-10 years, and he’s part of that,” teammate Trea Turner said, per David Adler of MLB.com. “When the game gets better and he’s still at the top of it, it speaks to how consistent he is … That’s where he separates himself.”
While Realmuto has established himself in Philadelphia and the league, Bridges is on his way to doing something similar for the Nets.
Next Step in Mikal Bridges’ Evolution
“Privately, Jacque Vaughn and members of the Nets front office have acknowledged playmaking and using his newfound gravity to punish double-teams will be the next steps in Bridges’ development into an All-Star,” writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Bridges’ usage spiked from what was already set to be a career-high 19.2% with the Phoenix Suns to 30.3% after being traded to the Nets.
But, as Lewis notes, the weight of being a No. 1 option impacted his efficiency.
Bridges also made 83 appearances during the regular season becoming the first player since Josh Smith in 2014-15 to do so. Naturally, he led the NBA in total minutes despite only ranking 15th in minutes per game.
That durability – he hasn’t missed a game due to injury since high school – along with his newfound pliability as at worst a top-flight No. 2 option has the Nets looking for co-stars.
“Their task will be finding a supporting scorer and adequate help on offense,” says Lewis.
Mikal Bridges’ Current Co-Star
Bridges’ friend and teammate Cameron Johnson is a restricted free agent this offseason and could be in line for a contract that comes close to the four-year, $90.9 million deal the former received from the Suns.
Former Nets general manager Bobby Marks warned of overvaluing Bridges after what we saw in the postseason.
But could the Nets value him enough to fork over whatever Johnson is seeking?
“That’s my twin,” Johnson said of Bridges during his end-of-season press conference on April 25 via the Nets’ YouTube channel. “The continued opportunity to play with him would be very cool to me.”
Signing Johnson would bring the Nets above the luxury tax barring further moves which could further complicate fleshing out the roster.