Mikal Bridges spoke to Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks recently and in the interview, he admitted he’s not playing the way he wants in the 2023-24 season ... and that he understands fans’ frustration with the team’s up-and-down start...
“I’m ready to take the heat. There’s games I play bad and I feel it with the Nets fans,” Bridges said in talking to Rooks. ”I’m not playing where I wanna play, but it’s just trying to figure out the system I’m in and offensively, defensively trying to find my groove. I feel Nets fans on me a little bit, I feel it. Some can be dumb, but a lot them just care so much and they care about winning as much as I do.
“So they’ll get on me but for reasons I understand. I’m a reasonable guy. I’d rather have that, it’s kind of [them] being like, ‘Kal, pick your sh*t up’. I’ve been feeling good and just continuing to get better every day and continuing to grow.”
Not all fans think there’s been much of a dropoff overall from his 27 game run following the superstar trades in early February. As our Lucas Kaplan wrote earlier Wednesday, his scoring and 3-point shooting may be down but there are other aspects of his game that are better than last season’s.
Bridges isn’t regressing just because his numbers and usage are down. Quite the opposite in fact; the offensive creation skills he’s honing behind the scenes are starting to show on the court.
And the 27-year-old thinks that he’s better defensively this season than he was at the end of last season when he changed his focus from being one of NBA’s top defenders to the engine that drove the Nets offense.
“I feel really good [defensively],” he said. “Last year I feel like there was a big drop, honestly, but now I feel good. I would definitely say I’m one of the best [perimeter defenders], for sure.”
He explained the calculus.
“I think handling it a little more offensively just takes it away a little bit. And I could just feel it sometimes, but this year I’ve been way better. When I got traded last year, I just felt like I wasn’t there… There would be times when I feel like I’m being too relaxed. Being back cut for layups. When I felt that was happening to me in Brooklyn, I was like, ‘Oh hell no Kal, you gotta wake the hell up.’”
Indeed, Bridges’ defense has attracted some attention this season...
A compilation of Mikal Bridges' defense on Kristaps Porzingis last night. Obviously a very draining physical matchup for him, but he battled on switches and broke up multiple possessions. Incredible job. pic.twitter.com/NbKRnBZq4Z— Sam Cooper (@scooperhoops) November 18, 2021
He also went through some of his biggest challenges as a defender with Rooks...
And when Rooks asked who had given him the biggest assist off the court, he credited his former Suns coach, Monty Williams, likening him to a stern dad...
Bridges also speaks about his Villanova jersey retirement, the role of ego in developing in the NBA and being traded for Kevin Durant.
- Nets’ Mikal Bridges gets 100% real on criticism from fans amid slow start - Erik Slater - Clutch Points