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NBA Draft 2018: which Bridges is a more realistic pick for the Mavericks?

Our college diehards debate the two lottery bound forwards who share the same last name.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Picking with the fifth overall selection in a draft that, at the moment, has at least three guys locked into the top five means the Mavericks have some interesting choices ahead of them. The broad consensus is the Dallas may well wait to see who falls to them out of these top selections, but what if the Mavericks find a fit and believe in the talent of a player currently projected in the 8-12 range? We examine two quality players in Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.

Jordan Brodess (@JBrodess): I’ve been hyping Mikal Bridges since January, almost to go as far to say that the Mavericks should grab him at five. But long before I was singing the praises of the Villanova wing, I was dying for the Mavericks to draft Miles Bridges in the 2017 draft, until he decided to return to school. This duo is all about versatility, and the Mavs are in dire need of that - but I think we can both agree, Ian, that taking either Bridges (Bridge? Bridgii?) is a stretch at five, yes?

Ian Miller (@SmitheeMMB): Despite all my clamoring for wings(!) in the draft, taking one of Miles or Mikal at 5 might be (wait for it) a Bridge Too Far. Mikal could be an outstanding role player in the NBA, but for a team that really needs star talent and specifically high quality and volume shot-creation, that’s probably not something one should realistically expect from the Villanova product.

Of the two, though, you could make the argument that Miles has the higher upside, as a plus athlete with an NBA body right now who made small gains developing as a shooter and passer in his sophomore season. Dennis and Miles together would be a dunk contest waiting to happen, and as Miles is two years younger than Mikal, fits the rebuild timeline (slightly) better.

Jordan: I do like Miles’ ability to create offense for himself from the wing a little more. But there have to be some questions (some of the same questions I have for Bagley on a different level) about whether Miles will have trouble once he’s not the best athlete on the floor every game. DSJ learned some of that the hard way this season — you can’t out-jump everyone at the rim.

I was a little disappointed that Mikal didn’t get measured at the combine. One, because I’d love to know his official wingspan. On the other end, maybe Miles shouldn’t have been measured...+3 wingspan? Not ideal.

Ian: Miles’ length does put him on the smaller end of the spectrum if you’re thinking of him as a combo-forward. However, his strength and athleticism should mitigate (some) of that.

In terms of physical dimensions, the player he might compare best to is former Mav Jae Crowder, who has overcome his lack of size to carve out a long career in the positionless basketball era. I would say Miles’ offense is well ahead of where Crowder’s was at the same age, but I don’t see Miles having quite the same level of general basketball intelligence and anticipation (Crowder was a phenomenal defensive playmaker at Marquette).

The one area where you clearly like Miles over Mikal in smallball lineups is as a rebounder, as the former averaged nearly a double-double per 40 in his two college seasons, despite playing with two NBA-quality talents in the frontcourt in Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Jordan: That Crowder comp is something I hadn’t thought of before. I see some similarities there, and I think you’re right — you’re probably trading some of Crowder’s elite defense for some more athletic offense. What drew me to Miles last year is the idea that he and Barnes could play both forward positions interchangeably. And I think that’s still true. But I would argue Mikal brings more versatility to the floor. And you won’t be trading one side of the floor for the other.

Shot charts from the 2017/18 season for Mikal Bridges (left) and Miles Bridges (right). Per

As you can see above, thanks to the guys over at The Stepien, both Mikal (left) and Miles (right) shot the ball well from deep. And they both thrived on the wing (a good sign). And we can argue that Mikal benefitted from nearly NBA level spacing — but what surprised me, was Mikal being more successful at the rim. Pair that with his versatility to at least guard one through three, be Dennis Smith Jr.’s long term backcourt mate, and his basketball IQ? Mikal feels like a no brainer for me. Either way, the Mavs could do much worse than one of these two, especially if they want to “compete now.”