Many were not sure what to expect after the Brooklyn Nets traded Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks and Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns. But newly acquired Nets starter Mikal Bridges is putting all doubt to rest. Since arriving in Brooklyn, Bridges is averaging 27.6 points per game and shooting a blistering 41% from beyond the arc. But even more valuable than his production is Bridges’ availability which Nets general manager Sean Marks calls “refreshing”.
“You look at how he plays the game, when he was playing in Phoenix, even dating back to college days,” Marks said to ESPN.’s Nick Fridell.
“The length, the reliability — he’s nearing 400 games played in a row, it’s pretty unique in this day and age. And for somebody who actually wants to play at that clip is also certainly refreshing.”
Bridges’ teammates echo the same sentiment as Marks, applauding his iron man-like availability.
“He’s the iron man of the NBA,” Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said.
“Availability is the best ability,” Nets center Nic Claxton added. “He’s playing at an All-Star rate right now, so it’s good having him out there, for sure.”
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Mikal Bridges Takes Strong Stance on Missing Games
Bridges has not missed a game since he was drafted 10th overall in 2018. It is one of the most impressive active streaks in sports. Especially when you consider the NBA and its current load management era. But despite his iron man tendencies Bridges says he doesn’t look down on players that miss games.
“I’m not so anti about [missing games]. Everybody has their reasons. And I think if it’s reasonable where guys don’t play or maybe coming off an injury or things like that, I’ll understand,” Bridges said to Friedell.
“Everybody’s body’s different, that’s the biggest thing. I could get kneed in the leg and be OK, but somebody else whose body swells up can’t move the next day. It’s just different because people don’t know, they’re not here. They’re not that person, they’ll never know.”
Mikals Bridges Compared to Utah Jazz Star
Since being traded in February, Bridges is averaging more points and rebounds than he ever did in four and a half years in Phoenix. You could even go as far as to say that the Nets wouldn’t be fighting for a playoff spot if it wasn’t for him elevating his level of play. But without having to share the ball with Devin Booker and Chris Paul, Bridges has been given more opportunities offensively, and is blossoming into a superstar as a result. Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy compared his evolution to big man Lauri Markkanen.
“Mikal was a great player when he was in Phoenix, but you’re playing with Chris Paul and Devin Booker and those guys have the ball a lot. Lauri played last year with Darius Garland and higher usage guys on that team,” Hardy said on April 2.
“I think both of those guys have high ceilings and will continue to get better as they get consistent opportunity.”
Although he is appreciative for being given more space to grow, Bridges still says that his development is rooted in him putting in the work to succeed.
“It’s growth too, just a lot of film and a lot of practice, just being out there and trying to read the game,” Bridges said on April 2. “It’s a lot, just with growth and learning and just watching as well.”