Leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21st, we will be using our NBA Draft Models (PNSP Model, Role Probability Model, and Similarity Scores) to investigate this year’s top prospects. These Prospect Profiles look at which stats affect NBA projections, present unique data points from a player’s stats, and give relevant comparisons to current NBA players. You can find all of our Prospect Profiles here or through the header menu above (NBA –> NBA Draft –> Prospect Profiles). In today’s article, we look at Miles Bridges.
Miles Bridges | SF/PF | Michigan State
|PNSP||All-Star %||Starter %||Bench %||Non-NBA %|
Miles Bridges was a star in his freshman season at Michigan State. Given his NBA-ready size and athleticism for a wing, he surprised many by returning for his sophomore season rather than entering in an NBA draft in which he was projected as a late lottery pick. Statistically, his sophomore season was very similar to his freshman season, with the biggest changes in his game being an improvement in his free throws and shooting more 3-pointers.
Draft Model Projections
Bridges’ PNSP of 68.7 ranks 21st in this years draft class, which is 3rd among wings behind Mikal Bridges and Rodions Kurucs (as we have already mentioned, this draft is weak in terms of top-end wing talent). This is a fairly low ranking for Bridges given the fact that many scouts and draft analysts are projecting him to be selected at the end of the lottery. Bridges was a good player in college but he didn’t excel at any particular aspect of the game, which is one reason why our PNSP model is more pessimistic about his professional outlook. On the other hand, our Role Probability model gave a more favorable view of Bridges, as he received a very high Starter probability at 55% (3rd in this year’s class). Our role probability model also gives Miles Bridges a high floor with a bench probability of 18% and a non-NBA probability of 11%. This means that he has 71% chance of being at least a starter in the NBA, which is the 9th best mark among draft-eligible players (much better than his 21st PNSP ranking). He doesn’t possess the All-Star upside of other top-ranked prospects, but Bridges has a promising outlook as a player who can earn a position as a starter in the NBA. Below is a table of historical players who had similar role probability distributions to Miles Bridges when they came out of college:
Five to ten years ago, Miles Bridges might have been given the dreaded label as a “tweener” – someone who doesn’t really fit a specific position on the basketball court. Fortunately for Bridges, the latest trend in the NBA is “position-less” basketball where teams play multiple players who can all fill numerous roles. Miles Bridges fits into this new position-less paradigm nicely. His most valuable trait as a prospect is his versatility. He doesn’t have one particular skill that he performed at an elite level, but he was able to be successful in many different aspects of the game. He showed the ability to score (21.5 PTS/40) rebound (9.6 TRB/40), pass (3.1 AST/40), and block shots (1.4 BLK/40) effectively in his two years at Michigan State. Bridges was a solid 3-point shooter in college, making 38% of his 339 total attempts, including 38% from NBA three-point range (per Will Schreefer). Another promising indicator for his shooting ability was his strong 85% free throw percentage during his sophomore season. Our models indicate that Bridges will be above average in numerous areas in the NBA, with 3-point shooting being his strongest trait relative to other players at his position.
Miles Bridges is a tough player to assess defensively. The good news is that his frame fits the mold of a player who can guard multiple positions and switch defensive responsibilities. He is tall and stocky enough to bang with power forwards in the post but still agile enough to guard wings on the perimeter. In his freshman year, Bridges posted a block percentage of 4.9% which was 6th among all Guards in Division I according to sports-reference (although it is fair to argue if Bridges really should be considered a guard in college). In his sophomore season, this rate declined significantly to 2.5%, as he spent more time on the perimeter, largely due to the arrival of Jaren Jackson Jr. Our models project Bridges to be an above average shot blocker for his position in the NBA. Unfortunately, he did not produce steals at a very high rate (just 1.2% for his career), and our models project him as below average at generating steals in the NBA. Overall, Bridges looks like a strong enough defender where offenses won’t intentionally target him in isolation or pick and rolls. If he can develop into a player who can effectively guard positions 2- 4, he will be a key piece that can unlock a team’s ability to play more unconventional and effective lineups.
Bridges’ player comparisons are one of my favorite lists I’ve seen so far. The results are all over the map, from Frank Kaminski to Danny Green. The most common trait among this list is 3-point shooting. Almost all of the players listed attempted a high number of threes in college and converted them at a high rate. The multitude of different positions in Bridges’ top comparisons also reflects his versatility.
While Miles Bridges doesn’t have any elite skills to hang his hat on, his most promising traits are his stocky athletic frame and his shooting ability. After the successful seasons for the Celtics and Warriors last year, more teams will start valuing wings who can spread the floor with their shooting and are able to switch between positions on defense. Bridges has the body type of a good defender who can guard players all over the court, but his college defensive numbers do not pop out as elite. Offensively, Bridges will be pretty limited outside of sprinting out for dunks in transition and hitting open 3-pointers. He will likely never be a go-to-scorer or creator on offense, but he projects to be a good 3-point shooter in relation to other SF/PF hybrids. Overall, Bridges has a great chance at making into an NBA starting lineup in some sort of 3&D mold.