Following a career-best stretch to close the 2022-23 season, Mikal Bridges entered the year with All-Star expectations as the face of the Brooklyn Nets. However, 13 games into the 2023- 24 campaign, the 27-year-old has yet to live up to the hype.

After averaging 27.7 points on 47/38/89 shooting splits in 30 games with Brooklyn last season, Bridges is off to a slow start, averaging 20.3 points on a career-low 31.3 percent shooting from three. The second-year Net said he feels the heat from Nets fans amid his early shooting struggles.

“I’m ready to take the heat. There’s games I play bad and I feel it with the Nets fans,” Bridges said during an interview with Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks.”I’m not playing where I wanna play, but it’s just trying to figure out the system I’m in and offensively, defensively trying to find my groove. I feel Nets fans on me a little bit, I feel it. Some can be dumb, but a lot them just care so much and they care about winning as much as I do.

“So they’ll get on me but for reasons I understand. I’m a reasonable guy. I’d rather have that, it’s kind of [them] being like, ‘Kal, pick your s**t up’. I’ve been feeling good and just continuing to get better every day and continuing to grow.”

Despite Bridges' cold shooting start, he's shown improvement in several areas after an offseason and training camp with Brooklyn. The former lottery pick has shown glimpses of high-level passing – one of the main weaknesses in his game with the Nets last season – posting a career-high 17.0 assist percentage. He's played a significant role in turning around Brooklyn's league-worst rebounding from 2022-23, averaging a career-high 5.8 rebounds per game.

Mikal Bridges also said he feels his defense has improved following a dropoff last season amid an increased offensive workload with Brooklyn.

“I feel really good [defensively],” he said. “Last year I feel like there was a big drop, honestly, but now I feel good. I would definitely say I’m one of the [NBA’s] best [perimeter defenders], for sure.”

“I think handling it a little more offensively just takes it away a little bit. And I could just feel it sometimes, but this year I’ve been way better. When I got traded last year, I just felt like I wasn’t there… There would be times when I feel like I’m being too relaxed. Being back cut for layups. When I felt that was happening to me in Brooklyn, I was like, ‘Oh hell no Kal, you gotta wake the hell up.’”

With Cam Thomas and Ben Simmons sidelined, Brooklyn ranks 24th in offensive rating over the last six games, averaging 107.8 points (27th) while shooting 44.9 percent from the field (24th) and posting a 1.59 assist-to-turnover ratio (26th). Bridges regaining his elite offensive production from last season would go a long way for the Nets as they fight to get back to .500.

His next opportunity will come Wednesday when Brooklyn travels to Atlanta for a road matchup with the Hawks.