Miles Bridges Scouting Report

Miles Bridges – Combo Forward

Scouting report on Miles Bridges.

Measurements: 6’6.75 in sneakers, 220lbs, 8’7.5 standing reach, 6’9.5 wingspan

Note on his wingspan/standing reach – although they are roughly average for a small forward, they are below average for power forwards. This could be an issue in rim protection and steals, as the longer you are, the more impact you theoretically could have. However, he is very quick on his feet and appears to have quick hands in addition to his excellent athleticism, so those factors could help mitigate his “meh” length. As pointed out above, I would not want him guarding PFs full time – his lack of length is the main reason, although, again, his athleticism could help make up some of the difference.

Athleticism / Athletic Testing:

Great athlete all around – vertically (off one and two feet) and sliding feet. Strong. Did not test athletically at the combine.

Brief Overview:

Bridges slimmed down to 220 after spending his previous year at MSU playing in the 230s/low 240s. He did this with one thing in mind – knowing he will likely be playing the perimeter more in the NBA. While it is possible to play the 3 at a heavier weight, he slimmed down to quell concerns and paint the picture that he is light enough on his feet to play the wing full time.

Arguably Miles’ biggest strength is his actual strength, but also his tough mindset – he plays bigger than he actually is. Another thing to note is his lower body strength. If you look at pictures of him over the last two years, you will see that he has pretty thick legs. Defending the post successfully relies on hand placement, core strength, and leg strength. Once he learns the correct way to use his hands in defending the post, I don’t think he will have an issue guarding guys that are slightly bigger than him. However, if he is matched onto Embiid or other Cs, that could be problematic.

The only mark on his resume this year was his final game played, but considering the sample size, I’m not holding it against him. I’m sure you remember Jaylen Brown’s atrocious final college game, right? Well, he turned out well after an up and down freshman season at Cal.

If there’s one thing that today’s NBA’s wings need it’s positional versatility (especially on defense). If you watch the Celtics play defense, you will see their effortless defensive switching on the perimeter, paint switches, and off other actions. Having someone like Miles in that combo forward role could end up playing well into the hands of the team that drafts him. He can score in a variety of ways and can defend multiple positions (although I don’t feel comfortable having him chase guys off screens full time,  this is where switching would come into play). If he measured in at 6’8 with a 7’+ wingspan, he’d be in the running for a top 5 pick instead of looking like a mid to late lottery guy.

Stats:

Year PPG RPG/Rebound% APG FG% FT% 3PT% TS% EFG% oRTG/dRTG
16/17 16.9 8.3 (15%) 2.1 .486 .685 .389 .580 .563 108.4/96.8
17/18 17.1 7.0 (12.5%) 2.7 .457 .853 .364 .572 .535 118.2/95.5
Year WS/48 OBPM DBPM
16/17 .160 4.8 4.9
17/18 .208 5.7 3.5

Offense:

Scoring

Synergy stats (Percentile ranking)

Spot up Catch & Shoot (guarded/unguarded) Off Dribble Off Screen Isolation Post Up PnR Scoring Around Basket
57th 73rd (63rd /82nd ) 46th 66th 73rd 63rd 93rd 87th

Miles has a pretty varied skillset on offense scoring the ball. He’ll spot up from three and hit at a high clip, finish in the paint at a very high level (cannot underestimate how explosive he is, even without much room), and can create for himself off isolations and after a screen. Even though his percentile ranking for off screen shots is good, he is not someone you can really run off screens a la Klay Thompson or Kyle Korver (mainly because of his slow release and he simply doesn’t run around screens like them…but not many do). Simple pindowns should work though in the pros, especially against 4s where they will likely be trailing and have to catch up to him on the perimeter.

His shot from three is also pretty inconsistent (which is why his 3PT made per game is all over the place), but him shooting at 39% his freshman year and 36% his sophomore year bodes well for future progression – he is coming in from a high floor. It is my view that as long as a shot is not broken (no major hitch, no major drop down before the release, consistent release point), then I feel pretty confident in saying his shot will improve. I also really liked seeing the 17 point jump in FT% – aside from this showing hard work, having a high FT% is viewed as a good indicator for long term shooting ability. Obviously there are always some outsiders, but with his smooth shot and good form, I see no reason why it wouldn’t indicate that ability.

Miles is also a great paint finisher due to his athleticism and strength in the paint (87th percentile in paint) including drop offs in the “dunker’s spot,” off offensive glass (94th percentile), transition (78th percentile), straight line drives, and through contact. However, he does not get fouled nearly enough for someone with his athleticism. Maybe it’s because he does not exaggerate the contact? However, even if that were the case, with his strength in driving to the rim and playing in the post (especially his freshman year), you would want his FTA to be closer to 5+ instead of 3.

Miles is an excellent off ball cutter replacing guys on the perimeter who cut to the basket and himself cutting to the rim finding the open spot (91st percentile) – this is actually where he gets fouled the second most (ignoring miscellaneous), just percentage points behind in transition (22.% to 22.7%). Because he will likely be playing off ball in the NBA and not expected to create much for others (aside from a swing, occasional drive and kick, or PnR), his off ball cutting ability is going to be a major weapon, in addition to his ability to spot up off the ball. His proficiency in both bodes well for his early transition to the NBA and being able to make a solid impact off the bat on offense.

I should also note that his isolation percentile, while very good, is in a limited sample size. Watching the games, he was not really used as an isolation guy unless he either had a quickness advantage or the clock was winding down (shooting with under 4 seconds on clock, he was 36th percentile – considered average). However, the positive to note here is that 60% of his isolations end in drives finishing in the 86th percentile. The reason I think this is promising is because when he plays small ball 4 in the NBA, he should be able to drive and kick a bit with the extra space.

Even though the Synergy stats paint him in a good light, I’m still not entirely buying his iso-game. This goes to his handle, which I delve into a little bit more below – I think it is only “average.” I can see his isolation skill, which has a decent base, being used when he has the speed advantage on small ball 4s…but his size might actually lead other teams to going small as well and play someone who is around his size / quickness, which would negate that advantage on the perimeter (and potentially in the post, depending on who is defending him). The same goes for his PnR scoring (when he’s looking to score) – sample size is small, but he has the base skill set and has shown the ability to score after the screen is set, especially going to his strong hand.

Some final negatives – he settles for too many jumpers. His jump shot attempts went up from 164 to 259, which, at least partly, had to do with the guys he was playing with (Ward and Jackson usually took up the 5 and 4), but I would still like to see him be more aggressive attacking the rim – especially after his jumper has opened up the drive. It would lead to more FTAs and higher efficiency for him and the team, and would open up drive and kicks to three.

He also loved facing up out of the post, instead of using his strength to back down – he is still very raw in the post, but with his strength he should be able to overpower some wings that guard him. He’s good making reads out of the post and this should only improve if he uses his strength against smaller guys forcing the defense to send help. Lastly, his shot selection can sometimes be worrisome – again, takes too many jumpers and bad heat-checks.

Passing and Handle:

Year Assists Per 100 Poss Turnover per 100 Poss Assist% Turnover%
2016-17 3.8 4.3 14.5 13.9
2017-18 5.1 3.7 16.9 11.6

His handle is not very strong – not many moves. At best, I’d say it’s “average” for a wing, but he will not be exposed as a small ball PF if/when he plays it. He has a decent crossover, but it’s not very quick and is a bit too high/loose. Some of his dribble moves look pretty robotic (or tight in the hips). There were a few times where he displayed an advanced move, such as against Northern Baptist with a couple minutes left in the first half where he broke out a right to left through the legs, step back to the right mini jumper (similar to what Jamal Crawford did to Kirk Hinrich a while back). He also likes the step back jumper after the drive hesitation.

He is comfortable driving either to the rim or for a mini jumper or kick out off the pump fake – this will be a good move in his arsenal if whatever team drafts him ends up using him as a small ball power forward because they will be forced to close out on him from three.

Like his handle, he is nothing special here. He knows how to make the extra pass, but he is not going to create for others very well. His PnR numbers creating for others are not that good (30th percentile, below average) and he’s an A/TO ratio that is just a little above 1, but the fact that his assist%  went up and turnover% went down as he transitioned to the perimeter is a good sign. He doesn’t really force the ball into spots they shouldn’t be going, so decision making is not an issue here – it’s more wild drives and loose handle turnovers. As I mentioned above, he is comfortable passing to others off of straight line drives (and off pump fakes), but that is really it. I couldn’t imagine a team will try to run an offense through him, so his “meh” vision and passing ability will not be exposed too much.

Rebounding

Year TRB per 100 TRB% (oRB/dRB)
2016-17 15.2 15 (5.7 / 23.1)
2017-18 13 12.5 (5.2 / 18.2)

Simply put, he’s a fantastic rebounder. He is very athletic and very strong in the post, both boxing out and holding onto the ball once he grabs it. He’s more explosive off two feet than one in the paint, which is great in the post because this is how you go after rebounds after boxing. His rebounding should be at a high level no matter what position he plays (SF or PF).  Great motor on the glass, great second jump, strong, and athletic. You really cannot ask for a better combination. Miles also has the ability to grab and go, which will allow his team to start the break (and secondary break) faster.

My one question I have for him on the boards in the NBA will be his length. He is about the average size of a SF (just barely), and below average for a PF. Now, he will be able to make up some of that length because of his athleticism, but I can see him getting outrebounded a bit by the bigger 4s.

Should note that him moving to the perimeter is why his rebound percentage went down. He is still a fantastic rebounder for a wing, especially on the defensive glass.

Defense:

Spot Up PnR Ball Handler Off Screen Isolation Hand Off Post Up
69th 68th 62nd 84th 4th (13 poss) 20th (12 poss)

General thoughts – I think Miles’ strength and positional versatility makes him a very intriguing defensive player. As mentioned above, having guys who can switch onto smaller or bigger players is becoming increasingly important as every year passes. I think Miles has that kind of ability, although I do not want him on opposing PGs or post up PFs/Cs full time.

Watching the NBA playoffs and seeing the Celtics, Warriors, and Rockets employ paint switches often (and switching in general) allows one to see how Miles would be able to fill that role. Although he probably won’t be able to keep up with the 2s and 1s running floppy action all game long, he will be able to switch onto both when needed.

In addition, he will likely be able to bang with some 4s in the post, although he will likely be burned by the bigger ones. In small ball lineups probably against bench units, I don’t think this will be a major issue as this is when most teams go smaller – meaning, Miles will be matching up guys who will only have a slight size advantage on him. Miles’ strength will be a balancing point in his favor on post defense even if he is playing around 220-225 because of his attitude – he will not simply back down and acquiesce to bigger players forcing their will on him. Instead, he will fight back and push back.

Theoretically, his strong lower body will help him battle bigs in the paint similar to how Chuck Hayes was able to defend the post (although not to that extent). Even though he had some lazy defensive possessions in the post this year, I still project him at being a solid post up defender (again, against non-paint bigs/bangers). Last year, when he was playing more PF, he was in the 50th percentile (considered average) on 59 more possessions than this past year (71 to 12). I am curious to see how he learns to leverage his strength on post defense now that he’s lost weight. Once he learns proper hand positioning and how to use his strong body and athleticism as leverage in fronting the post and playing ¾ post defense, his size limitations will be harder to expose. For a point of reference, watch how Marcus Smart battles in the post against bigger guys. I can foresee Miles being able to do a similar job.

He does a good job closing out on the perimeter and uses short and choppy steps in doing so, although he can still improve there (as all players can). He also does a good job using his athleticism to keep guys in front of him, but could still use some IQ improvement in knowing when to back up, go over screen or under screen in PnR, etc. Getting by on athleticism is a lot easier to do in college and he will have to hone his defensive IQ once he enters the league. Having the athleticism to stay with guys in isolation is important and he definitely has that and showed the ability to defend isolations the past two years (84th percentile and 81st percentile).

*Until I have some time to cut clips, here is a highlight package. This only shows the highs, but shows some of his offensive versatility.

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