by Kyle Brandon (@Goodluckkyle)
Going into this season we heard Miles Bridges name brought up, but for reasons that weren’t so flattering. The Hornets sat by while draft classmates Mikal Bridges and former Michigan State teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. secured massive contract extensions. According to Dylan Jackson of Swarmandsting.com, he said “The Hornets have three options when it comes to Bridges and his contract: sign Bridges to an extension in the 2022 offseason, trade him before the deadline, or complete a sign-and-trade in restricted free agency.”
Hornets GM decided to wait it out and see what he had in Bridges to see if he was going to be a piece of this team moving forward. With the recent wing additions over the last couple years of Hayward, PJ Washington, and Oubre, there seem to be a lot of mouths to feed and without a clear pecking order. That decision seemed to spark something within Bridges.
Fast forward a week into the season and the Hornets are one of the league’s hottest teams coming off a massive victory over the preseason title favorite Brooklyn Nets. A large part of that hot streak is due to Miles leading this team with back-to-back-to-back 30-point performances.
The Hornets being an early “buzz” team shouldn’t come as a surprise for anybody. Dating back to April of 2020 this Hornets team was a 4 seed in the Eastern Conference ahead of teams like the Hawks, Celtics, and Heat. LaMelo and Hayward got hurt and Bridges had an opportunity to step up. In the 20 games LaMelo recovered, Bridges averaged 17 points and 7 boards while knocking down over 44% of his three-point attempts, in which he took 6 per game.
This season, Bridges has done it in every way. From casual 360 breakaway dunks, to outside catch and shoot threes, to sneaky backdoor lob finishes taking advantage of the opposing teams big men focusing on LaMelo. The versatility in his game has always been his strength. Since the days of being one of the best basketball players in all the NCAA, he’s been billed as a wing that can switch between 2-4 and can show explosiveness at any time.
While his dunks highlight dunks often are the topic of conversation, Miles has been smart with his shot selection, with only 1 FGA coming from beyond 10 feet that isn’t a 3PA.
He ranks top 10 this season in:
· Win Shares
· Value over Replacement Player
· And1 points generated
NBA Eastern Conference player of the week is the perfect start to the fourth season for Miles and the Hornets. The Hornets sit atop the Southeast Division standings with a 4-1 record and have positioned themselves at the top of many fan’s league pass rankings.