Fans of the Phoenix Suns have gotten used to seeing their team fail over and over again for the last couple of seasons. Their lack of fight on the court, coupled with several coaching changes, have led the squad running in circles in a competitive Western Conference. Of course, things are slowly coming around for the boys in the Valley, with Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Mikal Bridges showing the way.
The Point God’s acquisition at the start of this season capped off the Suns’ amazing run in the bubble. Although they fell short of a spot in the playoffs, their incredible performance served as an announcement to everyone in the league that they’ve finally arrived. And one of the big reasons why Phoenix is doing so well is the emergence of one Bridges.
Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 10th pick in the 2018 Draft, Bridges was immediately traded to the Suns for Zhaire Smith. After a quiet rookie and sophomore season, the forward from Villanova impressed everyone with his improved defense and range from the perimeter, especially in the bubble. That trend has continued this season as the Suns are pushing to return to the playoffs after not reaching it for so long. That’s why before Phoenix reaches the promised land, you need to know what makes Mikal Bridges such a compelling player to invest in.
Mikal Bridges’ defense is his main calling card
Take a look at what Bridges has done in the bubble and during the start of this season and you’ll come up to a very important conclusion – that his defense is elite. A good reason why Phoenix’s opponents during the bubble weren’t able to torch them from downtown was that Bridges was there to disrupt their flow.
Back during the Suns’ bubble run, he got assigned to the likes of T.J. Warren, Luka Doncic, and Kawhi Leonard, and succeeded in limiting their offensive capability. Add in his good feel of the game and you’ve got a player who can provide the stops Phoenix needs to change the game in their favor. This is where Bridges excels and it’ll be his way to make his presence felt in the card community.
His offense is something that can’t be ignored
For someone playing alongside Devin Booker and Chris Paul, there not’s much to be expected from Bridges when it comes to offense. Well, that’s not how it’s being done at the start of this season. Bridges has taken his 9.1 points per game last season and raised it to 15.1 points. The third-year forward even scored a career-high 34 points last January 09, 2021 in a win over the Indiana Pacers.
A key to Bridges’ improved offense is his increased three-point volume. With a 45% rate from downtown, he’s getting more buckets from the perimeter. This helps the small forward to become a true 3 and D player for the Suns, an asset that’s highly coveted by almost every team in the league.
Mikal Bridges has the perfect fit with the Suns
And as Phoenix’ 3 and D specialist, it stands to reason that Bridges fits perfectly within the system of their team. Much of the offense is handled by Chris Paul, the Point God himself, and Devin Booker, one of the most lethal scorers in the league right now. There’s also Deandre Ayton who can pair with Paul for the perfect pick and roll, if the situation calls for it. That leaves Bridges wide-open as these players usually demand multiple players to defend them.
As it is, Bridges won’t take much away from Paul and Booker when it comes to running the Suns’ offense. What he does is fit with their strengths by giving them a reliable person to shoot from beyond the arc, the midrange, or from below the post. As a result, Phoenix gets to score 110 points per game, a stat to which Bridges greatly contributes to.
If all those points are taken together, it would make sense to see how beneficial Bridges has been to the Phoenix Suns. If the season continues and he gets to take another leap, you can expect his card prices to do the same.
The good thing about Bridges is his card doesn’t command a premium price on the market like his draft classmates Luka Doncic and Trae Young do. His rookie cards are still attainable as of the moment, which makes him an ideal player to invest in. When Bridges goes off again as he did with the Pacers, his value in the card market will take a substantial leap as well.