Philadelphia 76ers get a glimpse Mikal Bridges’ potential vs the Suns

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

In his first game back after a three-year tenure with the Villanova Wildcats, Mikal Bridges gave Philadelphia 76ers fans a glimpse of what could have been.

Boy, what a game.

After dropping their November 14th road game to Orlando Magic less than one week ago, the Philadelphia 76ers have been on a roll, winning three straight games in route to a 3-1 record in the Jimmy Butler-era.

Now granted, the team has yet to really blow out a lesser opponent in truly dominant fashion, as each of their last four games have been decided by six or fewer points, but still, a wins a win in NBA, especially when postseason seating is so very essential to making an NBA Finals appearance.

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But even as fans bask in the glory of yet another Sixers victory, this time against the now 3-13 Phoenix Suns, Philly fans were treated to a glimpse of what could have been with an excellent performance by everyone’s favorite former Villanova Wildcat Mikal Bridges.

For those who have somehow forgotten, the 76ers actually drafted Bridges with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, with his team-employed mother gleefully watching on the floor of the Barclay Center, only to unceremoniously trade him to the Suns for Zhaire Smith and the Miami Heat‘s 2021 unprotected first round pick.

While this move was understandably questioned when it initially went down, as Bridges looked like a perfect fit alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as a 3-and-D shooter on the wings, it hadn’t initially come back to haunt the 76ers too much this season, as Bridges had only been averaging 7.7 points per game while knocking down 37 percent of his shots from downtown.

However, in the Sixers’ recent win over the Suns, Bridges showed off why he was such an appealing prospect in the first place, and why the team may go on to regret moving on from Jay Wright‘s former pupil within hours of his selection.

After only recording seven points over his first 20 minutes of action on Monday night, Bridges hit two straight three-pointers within the last-minute of action, forcing Mike Muscala and Jimmy Butler to go to the free throw line in a game that was much closer than it had any right to be.

Were Bridges late-game heroics enough to get his team a win after front running for a solid section of the first half? Obviously not, as even after knocking down a pair of late 3-pointers he was still outscored by three other Suns and five 76ers, but still, 13 points on the road in front of his hometown crowd is a solid evening for a 22-year-old rookie.

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Would Bridges addition have been enough to prevent Elton Brand from having to trade for Butler? Probably not, but had the Philadelphia 76ers opted to keep Mikal Bridges instead of trading him for Zhaire Smith, the team would have had one of the best, most versatile one-two punches in the league on the wings both now and for years to come. Alas, I guess said trade will go down as one of the great ‘what ifs’ of ‘the Process’-era.