Suns’ Monty Williams seeing leap of offensive growth in Mikal Bridges
Phoenix Suns small forward Mikal Bridges is well-known for his defensive prowess.
But while he might crack the NBA All-Defense team for the first time in his career, Suns head coach Monty Williams is seeing another aspect of his game evolving.
“I think he’s just scratching the surface as far as his versatility on offense,” Williams told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday. “The playoffs last year showed him where he needed to grow. There were so many possessions at the end of the clock or 7-8 seconds on the clock and he got the ball and he was a bit caught in between whether to shoot the ball or put it down.
“He wasn’t always prepared to make the play and now, after a summer of work and going through that playoff experience, I think he’s got a lot more confidence in his ability to make plays off the dribble.
After averaging just under nine points per game over his first two seasons, Bridges jumped up to 13.5 in 2020-21 and sits at 13.4 across the first 58 games this year. His recent stretch has been one his best in his career, however.
Since the start of the new year (23 games), Bridges’ scoring numbers have increased to 15.6 points per game, while shooting 55% from the field. The small forward is also dishing out 2.7 assists per contest.
Bridges upped ability of a playmaker could come in handy for a Suns squad down star point guard Chris Paul and his 10.7 assists average for the next 6-8 weeks due to an avulsion fracture in his hand. It’ll take a collective effort from the team’s ball handlers to make up for Paul’s absence.
“We all saw (Bridges) improve as a shooter but I think the thing we are seeing now is his ability to put the ball down for two, three, four dribbles and get a shot off or facilitate and make a play for somebody else,” Williams said. “That’s what I’m seeing now. He’s not one-dimensional, even two-dimensional in his ability to shoot the ball and drive it to the basket for a dunk.
“Now he’s probing more and making plays for himself and other people. We feel like he’s just going to continue to grow in that area.”