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Nobody gets past Mikal Bridges

The Suns’ defense gets a much-needed boost.

Villanova’s Mikal Bridges is known primarily as a shooter. At least, he is these days. When Bridges joined the Wildcats, he was distinguished by long-limbed, athletic finishing ability, without much prowess from outside. He’s since sharpened that perimeter stroke to well over 40 percent as a junior, becoming one of the most well-rounded scorers, if not a distinct isolation threat, on one of college basketball’s most impressive teams.

Bridges’ defense, though, is what sets him apart. It’s what makes him so crucial to the Wildcats, and what’s going to make him a highly valued NBA prospect now that he’s joining the Phoenix Suns.

He’s around 6’7 with about 7-feet of wingspan, and he’s got speed both shuffling laterally and springing off the floor. Those physical attributes combined with really impressive court sense make for a defender who can stop anyone. Like, really anyone. It’s not uncommon to see Bridges switching constantly through screens. He’s quick enough to shadow a penetrating guard and sizable enough to contest a big man in the post, so why not?

Particularly in the NBA, where coaches keep leaning into switch-happy, everyone-the-same-size lineups, one can imagine a player with Bridges’ size, skill, and intelligence really coming into his own.