Mikal Bridges is currently giving the Brooklyn Nets a star to base their team around while pulling off his best Kevin Durant impersonation.
It makes sense that after moving Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets would fall in the standings.
They were compelled to rebuild, but they were able to do so by bringing back five future first-round picks, a pick swap, and a few players that seemed to be high-end role players who could either be used to try to stay competitive or traded for more assets.
The slippage has definitely occurred — the Nets are 3-6 since the deadline and have fallen to No. 6 in the Eastern Conference. But there’s a good chance they can still avoid the play-in thanks to a breakout stretch from Mikal Bridges.
To be clear, he did some of these things with the Suns. You saw it in flashes. But his opportunities were limited enough that it was fair to wonder whether he’d be able to do them at the same level when the offensive system relied on it more heavily, and when Paul, Ayton and Booker weren’t there to draw defensive attention.
Restocking their collection of draft picks may have been the most important part of the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades for the suddenly rebuilding Nets. But in Bridges, they also landed a 26-year-old who is already one of the best wing defenders in the league, a guy who didn’t miss a single game in three of the last four seasons and is under contract for three more years at just over $20 million per season, a figure that is looking like it could be an absurd value.
The Nets might have found themselves a star.