Mike Schmitz of ESPN says Bridges is one of five potential beakout players in the NBA with the reasoning being they were misused in college. Now, the thought of Izzo not maximizing the potential of elite recruits wouldn't surprise anyone here but...Bridges as a four in the NBA? I think he'd get killed on the defensive end.
Anyway, here's the logic:
Miles Bridges | Michigan State | F | Age: 20.1
Bridges didn't quite make the statistical jump most had expected after he elected to spurn a 2017 lottery selection to return for his sophomore season. But the similar level of productivity was more a product of how he was used than anything, with head coach Tom Izzo regularly forcing him into the small forward spot with offensive rebounder Nick Ward at the 5 and modern center Jaren Jackson Jr. at the 4.
This was clearly an inopportune situation for Bridges, who is much more interesting as a small-ball 4 who can use his explosiveness and versatility in space. You can see the lack of spacing here, and the fact that Bridges attempted 98 pull-up jumpers in 37 games speaks to how he was used with the Spartans -- as a primary shot-creating wing with minimal room to operate:
How will it change in the NBA?
Expect Bridges to look much more comfortable playing the 4 with NBA spacing, potentially unlocking some passing ability that he showed flashes of at Michigan State. He played far too much catch-and-hold basketball in college and figures to spend much more of his time hammering home lobs in transition, knocking down spot-up jumpers after popping to space and attacking on the catch against a scrambling defense. Bridges can play some pick-and-roll, but it's likely to come as a mismatch small-ball 4 to force switches.
Although he did slim down to 220 pounds at the combine, Bridges' offensive versatility along with his ability to defend both big wings and small-ball forwards thanks to his frame and competitiveness makes him an intriguing two-way option in the mid-to-late lottery. While maybe never a first or second option, Bridges figures to look better offensively in the NBA than he did with the Spartans.