By Charles Maniego
While this year’s draft is short on big men outside of the lottery, there are a whole lot of wings and combo guards that fit the 3&D mold. Many players project as high level role players in the NBA – either due to their skillset or their production. But that makes you wonder, “Why can’t we look at more high upside prospects?” Depending on the situation they fall under, any of these players could exceed expectations. (That seems super obvious.) A player like Zhaire Smith may just be scratching the surface on his potential. Even a mid lottery selection like Mikal Bridges could expand his game just a little and be a team’s second or third best player. As of right now, none of us know how these prospects will end up. We don’t know if they’re even on Sean Marks’ radar. But we can still do our research.
Mikal Bridges, Wing, Villanova (CMP: 8.75)
Bridges (the Villanova one) is ready to play in the NBA right now. Bridges is probably the best 3&D prospect in the entire draft – with the pedigree, skills, and measurements to be a high-level role player. Bridges has improved his shooting every season at Villanova, going from a 30% shooter to a 44% shooter – all while extending his range beyond he college 3 and back towards the NBA stripe. His shot release is clean and concise, and is able to shoot it coming off of handoffs and movement due to solid footwork. Bridges’ athleticism and soft touch shines when he flashes to the rim. He’ll likely be successful as a cutter or attacker off of closeouts as a pro. While he may not be a ballhandling threat as a pro, he does have a solid understanding of reading defenses, rarely forcing his offense and setting up teammates. Defensively, Bridges has length, smarts, and quickness to fuel his defensive repertoire. He shows great anticipation in the passing lanes, and competes both on and off-ball. Bridges will be able to comfortably guard positions 1-3 at the NBA level....