Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mikal Bridges
- Villanova wing Mikal Bridges could be a superstar role player, but teams in the top 10 are likely to draft for more upside.
- As a result, there’s nice value on his prop of over 9.5 draft position.
Mikal Bridges has done nothing but win in college, taking home national titles for Villanova in 2016 and 2018. He’s 6-foot-7, can defend multiple positions (or at least be competent switching), and shot 43.5% from the 3-point line this past season on six attempts per game. We’re only a couple weeks removed from watching smart teams such as Houston, Boston and Golden State dominate with wings; those teams literally could not get enough 2s or 3s on the floor at a time.
And yet, there are six centers projected in the top 10, and wings such as Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges and Kevin Knox are expected to fall in the late lottery. What gives?
Teams Draft for Upside in the Top 10
Mostly, teams are looking for superstar talent and athleticism, and Mikal doesn’t project to be a dominant first-level shot-creator. I think he’s likely undervalued for that reason — Jaylen Brown, Khris Middleton, Robert Covington and Otto Porter all showed in the playoffs how valuable they are to an overall team build. Mikal won’t be Kevin Durant or even Jayson Tatum, but he can certainly be an advanced stats darling and help contribute to winning basketball at the highest level.
So where could he fall?
- Over 9.5 (-170)
- Under 9.5 (+130)
I think this one is pretty easy: Even though it’s juiced toward the over, I think it’s unlikely a team will take a guy whose upside is “star role player” over one-and-done players such as Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter, Trae Young or Michael Porter. Sometimes there’s excitement in not knowing the future for a prospect — we don’t know whether Trae will be Steph Curry Lite, for example — and there’s less excitement about 21-year-old proven commodities such as Bridges. For that reason, I think his ceiling is No. 10 to the Philadelphia 76ers, who need another wing (who doesn’t, though?) and are ready to compete for a Finals berth now.
The New York Post on Wednesday linked Bridges to the Knicks, but I still don’t buy it. Everyone below the 76ers — the Knicks at No. 9 especially — have too much uncertainty in the future to not reach for the stars on a prospect.
The wild card is the Cavaliers at No. 8, but I think they’ll be more interested in a tantalizing young player such as the ones listed above. It’s possible Mikal drops even lower in the lottery to Charlotte or the Clippers. Either way, I think it’s much more likely than -170 that Mikal drops to 10 or below, so I don’t mind drinking the juice on this one.
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