5. Dallas Mavericks select Mikal Bridges
Original draft position: 10
Mikal Bridges looked like a top-tier 3-and-D contributor until he was traded to Brooklyn. First things first, there's nothing wrong with solely being a 3-and-D player. Bridges excelled in his role for the Phoenix Suns. He played with uber-efficiency on offense and locked down the opposing team's best player.
However, after being shipped to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kevin Durant, Bridges shined in a starring role. After the midseason trade, Bridges averaged 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and a steal per game while maintaining exceptional efficiency.
Like Trae Young, Bridges' NBA projections were commonplace among scouts. Bridges was deemed a pro-ready player, with two-way versatility. Someone who could shoot the three and defend up to three positions.
And, those projections immediately came true. But, as a 22-year-old entering the association, his ceiling seemed relatively low. And it remained as such for his first few seasons.
The change of scenery totally altered Bridges' career trajectory. Now, Bridges looks like a 20-point-per-game scorer who can lockdown opposing wings. Not yet quite on premier two-way wing Paul George's level, but he's certainly inching closer.
Bridges isn't overly creative with the ball in his hands, nor is he an advanced playmaker. But he thrives in the catch-and-shoot and in one or two dribble pull-up situations. He shoots it from every area of the floor and does so with absurd efficiency.
Although atypical for players entering their sixth seasons, Bridges can still ascend to stardom. It seemed like his progression may have stalled with the Suns, but after heading to the Nets, it seems as if anything is possible. Bridges may show an advanced handle or much-improved passing instincts in the upcoming season.