Bridges already had a major breakthrough after being acquired in the Kevin Durant trade in February, increasing his scoring average from 17.2 PPG in 56 games with Phoenix to 26.1 in 27 games with Brooklyn. He also proved to be effective in international basketball, finishing as Team USA’s second-leading scorer behind Anthony Edwards. Lewis points out that Bridges had the best efficiency rating on the team as a result of his shooting percentages (63.3% from the floor and 55.6% from behind the arc) and his contributions on defense.
U.S. coach Steve Kerr was impressed by what Bridges and Nets teammate Cameron Johnson were able to bring to the team.
“I already knew what kind of players they were from coaching against them,” Kerr said. “But they’re so mature: There’s a calming sense from both guys. And they’re also modern-day basketball players: shoot the three, guard multiple positions, long athletically. They’re huge components to this team.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Nets will be one of the teams least affected by the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy, Lewis adds. The regulations put restrictions on the amount of rest permissible for star players, but the only Net who currently qualifies is Ben Simmons, who has been dealing with legitimate injuries ever since arriving in Brooklyn. Lewis notes that Bridges could eventually join Simmons if he becomes an All-Star this season, but he hasn’t missed a game in his NBA career.
- In an interview with Fix Media Network (video link) Clippers guard Norman Powell said it’s much easier to go out in public in Los Angeles without being recognized than it was when he played for the Raptors (hat tip to Fan Nation). “The support is crazy,” Powell said of playing in Canada. “It’s so bad, and it’s one thing that I do like now that I’m in L.A., because no matter where you’re at, eyes are on you in Canada. You can’t even go to restaurants, you can’t go to the mall, like you can’t walk down the street. … Don’t go to Vancouver or somewhere where they don’t have the Raptors, you’re getting mobbed, it doesn’t matter.”
- Ben Uzoh, who briefly played for the Raptors in 2012, has joined the organization as a scout, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca.