Mikal Bridges
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Mikal Bridges Is The Phoenix Suns’ Unsung Hero

The Phoenix Suns are one win away from the 2021 Western Conference Finals. Because of superstar Devin Booker, veteran leader Chris Paul, and former number one overall pick Deandre Ayton, the Suns have shocked the Western Conference all season. However, Phoenix has one player that does not receive the recognition that he deserves. This player elevated his game immensely this season, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists in the regular season. Additionally, he has scored 10 or more points in all but two games this postseason, including a 23-point performance in game two of the Western Conference Semifinals. Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has stated that this player should be awarded as a member of one of the NBA All-Defensive teams this offseason. That player is Mikal Bridges.

Phoenix has dominated the Denver Nuggets en route to a 3-0 lead in the series. Yet, the impact on the game that Bridges makes has gone wildly unnoticed both in this series and all season. Bridges has put up double digit points in every game this series and has knocked down some huge momentum-shifting shots along the way. Plus, Bridges has completely neutralized Denver’s second scoring option, Michael Porter Jr. His top tier defense has added significant pressure to Nikola Jokić on the offensive end.

Defensive Impact

Denver’s struggles on offense this series can be traced directly to Mikal Bridges, the lengthy three-and-D wing. By neutralizing Porter Jr. and limiting the number of open threes for Denver, he has forced less talented players to take more shots. Monte Morris, Austin Rivers, and Paul Millsap, among others, have been unable to make up for Porter Jr’s lack of production. Without the production of Mikal Bridges, this series could be drastically different. Denver’s offense performed much better against Portland and they defended the three much better as well.

Offensive Impact

Mikal Bridges has played his role to a tee this series. By shooting 52 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three, Bridges has contributed an average of nearly 17 points per game. This has taken the pressure off of Devin Booker and has spaced the floor perfectly for Phoenix. Bridges has knocked down the majority of his open looks and has even created shots for himself driving to the basket.

The Suns are likely to move on to the Western Conference Finals and face either Utah or the Clippers. If it is Utah, Monty Williams may have his star defender guarding superstar Donovan Mitchell. If it is LA, Bridges may be tasked with Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. Either way, Bridges will play a vital role in that series as well. The Phoenix Suns may go as Devin Booker goes, but Mikal Bridges is very important as well. The Villanova product has propelled Phoenix this postseason and shows no signs of stopping.

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