Bridges made the bold move to return as a sophomore after figuring to be locked into the 2017 first round. And though he didn't fly further up boards in 2018, he made subtle improvements. Playing mostly out of position at small forward during his time at Michigan State, Bridges is a candidate to be better suited in the pros, where he'll likely spend most of his time playing the small-ball 4.
Size: 6'6 ¾"
Weight: 220 pounds
Wingspan: 6'9 ½"
Reach: 8'7 ½"
Pro-player comparison: Justise Winslow/Jae Crowder
Bridges worked mostly off the ball last season, with 29.2 percent of his offense coming from spot-ups. On those possessions, he was at his best attacking, finishing 17 of 28 drives. Bridges shot a strong 64.6 percent at the basket, where he's a powerful, explosive leaper. It makes him an easy-basket machine in transition. His three-point percentage dipped, but he still made 2.1 threes per game, and after shooting 68.5 percent from the free-throw line as a freshman, he shot 85.3 percent last season. Despite the smaller sample size of possessions, Bridges also made progress creating on the ball, ranking in the 93rd percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler (57 possessions) and 73rd percentile out of isolation (51 possessions).
Bridges still isn't sharp off the dribble, having hit just 33.7 percent of his pull-ups. The stop-and-pop jumper is his go-to method for creating his own shot away from the hoop, and he'll often settle for it. He lacks an advanced one-on-one game around the perimeter, which is why playing the 3 isn't ideal. Bridges is a lefty, but he only converted two of eight drives going left out of isolation (12-of-17 going right).
Bridges has the quickness and strength to potentially become a versatile defender. The hope is for him to guard both forward spots. However, Bridges has had trouble with physical bigs, particularly guarding the post, where his lack of size and length shows. It could be problematic at the next level, since offensively, power forward is the position he's best suited for. It makes it even more important for him to continue improving his perimeter skill level, so he can play more minutes on the wing and become interchangeable based on matchups.
Bridges should be an 8-12-point scorer as a rookie just by playing to his strengths as a shot-maker and athlete. He won't have the freedom to create on the ball, nor is he ready to. The coaching staff will value his passion and effort, and as long as he competes defensively, Bridges should have the green light to play through mistakes. Expect most of his baskets to come off catch-and-shoot jumpers and finishes at the rim.
Projected role: High-end role player
Bridges doesn't project as a high-level scorer or All-Star. It's more reasonable to envision him as another version of Crowder offensively or Winslow for his athleticism and energy. He comes off as a high-floor, lower-ceiling prospect who'll play minutes right away but never be a top offensive option in a rotation.