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2018-19 Player Preview: Miles Bridges will be a key contributor this season

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A couple of strong preseason outings show how high this rookie’s potential is.

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Going into the 2018 NBA draft, the Charlotte Hornets were in dire need of some explosive potential on the wing. Enter Miles Bridges, hopefully the solution to that need.

Bridges wowed in the Summer League even while struggling with his outside shot at times. Despite the obvious potential, the Hornets entered training camp with no clear rotation spot for the Michigan State product. Nicolas Batum’s shift to small forward created a glut of experience at the position, possibly leaving the rookie on the outside looking in.

However, Bridges has impressed the coaching staff with his rapid development, and it’s looking less and less likely that he won’t find consistent minutes early in his career. Just days ago, head coach James Borrego said he anticipated limiting Bridges to the small forward position while he got acclimated to the game. Two preseason games in, and we’ve already seen the 12th pick in the draft play the 3, 4, and 5 for the Hornets, and he’s been thriving.

Through two preseason games, Bridges is averaging 16.5 points and 7.0 rebounds while connecting on 59% of his shots from the field and 50% of his 3-pointers. He’s made a strong case to receive the bulk of the backup small forward minutes behind Nic Batum, as it appears the coaching staff is prepared to give Michael Kidd-Gilchrist almost all of his minutes at power forward.

If he continues to show out like he has thus far, Bridges should be a key contributor for a Hornets team that’s looking to get back into the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The Celtics notoriously biased broadcast team even went so far as to throw his name into the early rookie of the year race, and it’s not hard to see why. While rookie of the year may be a lofty goal in a draft class with the likes of Luka Doncic, DeAndre Ayton, and others, the Hornets rookie should certainly be in the conversation for the all-rookie teams. He’ll bolster a Hornets bench that has been the Achilles heel of the team since its last postseason appearance and provide an infusion of athleticism that the Hornets had been sorely lacking in the rotation. The Hornets desperately needed a spark heading into the first year of a new regime, and Miles Bridges looks like he’ll be exactly that.