Villanova superstar Mikal Bridges would be the perfect fit in New York. If the Knicks aren’t awarded a top pick, Bridges is their guy.
What exactly are the New York Knicks‘ needs coming into the 2018 NBA Draft? I’ll give you a hint, it’s Mikal Bridges.
Villanova’s junior forward displayed every single one of his dynamic tools in front of the eyes of Knicks executives at Madison Square Garden this past week.
The Wildcats hoisted the NCAA’s Big East Conference Tournament trophy, as Bridges was awarded the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
While Bridges may not be the flashiest prospect in the draft, he’s up there with the most effective. Bridges is averaging 18 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
The 6-foot-7 forward is a much-improved shooter, as he’s shooting a career-high 43 percent from three this season. That’s a 13 percent jump from his freshman year.
On top of the offensive numbers, Bridges is widely known as one of the top defenders in the country, as his long arms disrupt passing lanes and alter the shots of his opponents.
It’s no secret that the Knicks have a glaring hole at the small forward position moving forward. Tim Hardaway Jr cannot continue to be a filler at the three spot, considering he’s naturally a two guard.
That’s where Mikal Bridges comes in. The high-energy, three-point shooting and lockdown defense would fit perfectly into what the Knicks are trying to build.
Building a defensive-minded team generally comes with success. Take a look at the blueprint the Boston Celtics used to build their team.
Aside from completely stripping the Brooklyn Nets of their franchise, the Celtics built their team with young defenders who play hard, such as Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder.
They built a foundation of defensive minded players, and when the time was right, they brought in that offensive star in Kyrie Irving to take them to the top—though it did ultimately cost them Crowder as part of the deal.
That’s currently where the Knicks stand, Frank Ntilikina is a great defender, Kristaps Porzingis is a phenomenal rim protector and team defender, and this current Knicks team contains a few good individual defenders as well.
Infusing Mikal Bridges into that group would be one of many steps to building up that defensive culture that’s required when trying to build a championship contender.
The Knicks so desperately need a player like Bridges to not only score the ball but to be a defensive anchor on the perimeter.
Unless the basketball gods bless the Knicks with a top-three pick in this years lottery, the reality is the Knicks will likely be picking in the eighth or ninth spot of this year’s draft.
If the Knicks are picking near the end of the lottery, and Bridges is on the board, it’d be in their best interest to put him into an orange-and-blue uniform.