Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges is ESPN Analytics fifth-best prospect

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

With the NBA Draft fast approaching, ESPN Analytics has named ex-Villanova Wildcat and Philadelphia 76ers target Mikal Bridges their fifth-best prospect.

Don’t look now Philadelphia 76ers fans, but a local prospect is getting some major love in the pre-draft process.

That’s right, after being coveted for three years, we are mere days away from Villanova great Mikal Bridges‘ selection into the NBA, and with the 10th pick in their back pocket, the Sixers look primed to keep the Philly native in the City of Brotherly Love.

A move that’s looking better and better with each passing day.

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While fans in the 215 and on the Mainline obviously know that Bridges is a stud 3-and-D wingman, ESPN’s Draft Analytics model has validated those claims.

Using advanced analytics to predict a player’s potential at the next level, ESPN gave Bridges the fifth highest mark of any player in this year’s class, with the second highest chance of developing into an All-Star at 15 percent.

Pretty impressive stuff.

While utilizing analytics models is just a small piece of what goes into scouting a player, as actually watching a player’s tape and in-person interviews are still imperative, it does highlight why Bridges is such a hot name in draft circles, and why he would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia.

Unlike other players like, say, Trae Young or Lonnie Walker, who theoretically have greater upsides, at 21 years old, Bridges is much further along in his development as a player than almost anyone in this year’s class, and will likely be able to step in and become a solid contributor from day one.

Because he spent four years on the Mainline, learning from one of the best player development coaches in college basketball in Jay Wright, Bridges already has experience in a pro-style man scheme and has excelled as a two-way wing when paired with a creative ball handler.

A ball handler like Ben Simmons.

While some will question his ceiling, due to his age, and inability to contribute as a ball handler, to me at least, Bridges should be able to slot in as a perfect backcourt mate for Simmons moving forward,and could give the team one of the biggest, most flexible starting fives in the NBA.

At 6-foot-7, 205 pounds, Bridges has the size, speed and athleticism to cover virtually every position on the court, sans center, and while also being able to knock down open threes on the wings (.435 from three in 2017), easily shooting over smaller opposing shooting guards.

Now don’t get me wrong, size doesn’t always equal success, as the Sixers struggled mightily to cover the Boston Celtics‘ diminutive guard tandem in the playoffs, but finding an athletic 6-foot-7 guard/forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan who can cover athletic shooting guards (average height: 6-foot-5) is a major asset that few teams possess.

I mean, just look at how successful the Golden State Warriors have been with the similarly sized Klay Thompson manning the two guard spot

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With Justin Anderson struggling to remain healthy, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot struggling to even see the court, and J.J. Redick about to celebrate his 34th birthday, the Philadelphia 76ers need to find a young shooting guard to fill out their starting five moving forward. If he’s still on the board at 10, Mikal Bridges could perfectly fit that role and oh so much more.