As yet another NBA regular season is about to close, we are again witnesses to surprises and disappointments, both regarding players and teams. There’s a considerable list on either category, but on the player side, it might be safe to say that Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges is a popular pick.

The Nets, as you may remember, acquired Bridges alongside other players from the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster trade for Kevin Durant in February 2023.

Though more known for his defense and complementary offense, he busted through the gates in Brooklyn. He immediately turned into a scoring machine while closing his 2022-23 season, averaging 26.1 points per game in his first 27 games as a Net, including three 40-point performances.

One of those 40 pieces was against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, and the top 2-rated defense in the league:

As such, he was expected to make the official leap this 2023-24 season, perhaps as an All-Star and a legit number one option on a playoff team. It was seemingly on its way as he was also surrounded by a good crew of teammates.


Well, it was, in fact, not on its way – at least for now.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the Nets have taken a couple of steps back from last year. They are sitting at a terrible 29-47, which is only good for 11th in the East and roughly six games back from the final play-in spot. There’s regression on offense and defense as well as they’re just 24th in points per game, 22nd in offensive rating, 15th in points allowed per game, and 21st in defensive rating.

All that even got head coach Jacque Vaughn fired, who’s been with the team’s coaching staff since 2016.

Bridges, with all the momentum he has built, is naturally at the center of it all, and will take a good chunk of the blame. While he has very solid numbers on paper – 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game, 43.7 FG%, 36.9 3FG%, 81.4 FT% – it’s quite the shortcoming.

Not only are the Nets out of any postseason or play-in spot, it is also getting clearer by the day that Bridges isn’t fit to be a prime option at this stage. His offense has taken a hit because with the sheer volume of shots he’s taking night in and night out, we’re seeing that his jumper is not yet consistent, which then dips his shooting efficiency and scoring. Then, if that’s not enough, he isn’t playing the elite defense he has showcased while in Phoenix – though to be fair, it’s tough to expect such defensive energy when one is already tasked to lead the scoring load.

In any case, things aren’t looking up for Bridges and the Nets. Their dive down the standings won’t have any type of draft reward since their 2024 first-round pick belongs to the Houston Rockets via the James Harden trade, which was also a franchise mishap, but I digress.

We could even see Bridges in a new uniform by the start of the 2024-25 campaign because there’s a firm argument that he’s not even the best scorer on the team. Cam Thomas might have that crown since we’ve seen the guard take the spot over for some stretches. He’s actually at 22.0 PPG in 60 games this season, ahead by +1.7 points.

Whether the front office goes for Bridges or not, we may see some wheeling and dealing on the Brooklyn side this off-season because change is simply needed. It should be exciting to anticipate.