It has been quite an NBA season for Suns forward Mikail Bridges. His numbers are modest, at 12.1 points and 4.9 rebounds, but his shooting has been especially efficient. He has made 53.8% of his shots and 40.5% of his 3-pointers on the season, his fourth in the NBA.
He was also granted a four-year, $90 million contract extension in the offseason, and has been getting buzz as a potential Western Conference All-Star. Why? Because he’s established himself as one of the top defensive wings in the NBA.
And on draft night in 2018, he thought very seriously that he might be a Knick.
Speaking on J.J. Redick’s Old Man and the 3 podcast, Bridges flashed back to that draft, which saw the Knicks sitting with the No. 9 pick and mulling a handful of options. Bridges was one of them.
“During the draft, I really thought I was going to go to New York or I was going to go to Philly. That was the thing, I thought I was going to New York or Philly,” Bridges told Redick.
Knicks Had 4 Choices — And Picked Knox
There was a sense, during that draft, that the first eight slots were accounted for—DeAndre Ayton was the best player, Trae Young and Luka Doncic would be selected in the Top 5 and big men Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III would also be picked. Big guys Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. were also sure bets in the Top 8 and, though there was a chance point guard Collin Sexton could slip, that was unlikely (and he did not, going No. 8 to Cleveland).
The Knicks had their pick of the rest of the draft, then, and it appeared to come down to four players: Kevin Knox, Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They went with Knox, who has shown himself to be offensively useless and has played a total of 18 minutes this season.
Mikal Bridges went to Philadelphia who, unwisely, shipped him to Phoenix. No. 11 was Gilgeous-Alexander to the Clippers, who was eventually traded to Oklahoma City in the Paul George deal. SGA is averaging 21.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Miles Bridges went to Charlotte at 12, where he is having a breakout year, averaging 20.2 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Out of four choices, the Knicks picked the bust.
Bridges, who grew up in Philadelphia and played at Madison Square Garden several times as a high schooler and in college at Villanova, was bummed about the Sixers trade.
“Once New York got Kevin Knox, I was sitting there, I look at my agents and I am like, ‘All right.’ I am looking at them, I am waiting for a call and I am like, all right, Philly’s up next,” he said. “Then my agents kind of celebrated, kind of got the call right before they called me up and I was like, OK, going to Philly.”
Bridges Had Excelled at Madison Square Garden
A little salt in the wound for the Knicks: Before the draft, Bridges worked out for the team in early June and was impressive. After the workout, he tried to sell himself to the team’s brass, and expressed his love for Madison Square Garden. He averaged 22.7 points and shot 62.7% from the field in the Big East tournament that spring.
“The Garden is a special place,’’ Bridges said, according to the New York Post. “I love the Garden. I had my best games at the Garden this year. I played really good at the Big East Tournament. … A lot of great things happened [for me] at the Garden. It’s beautiful. I love it.”