The Brooklyn Nets aren’t as flashy as it previously was, but they now have one of the more interesting up-and-coming stars: Mikal Bridges.

The team that was once dominated by gigantic figures Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, found an unexpected hero midway through last season in the form of Bridges. Traded from the Phoenix Suns, Bridges swiftly became a new bearer of hope for the Nets, carrying the weight of a franchise on his shoulders and embracing his newfound role with unparalleled determination.

The 27-year-old’s journey didn’t start with grandeur. Known primarily as a defender and spot-up shooter during his Suns years, he was abruptly thrust into the spotlight, being asked to transform into a go-to scorer. To the surprise of many, he not only accepted the challenge but excelled a few notches beyond expectations.

Here’s him dropping 45 big ones in just his third game as a Net:

In the 27 regular-season games he played with the Nets last season, Bridges displayed a different level of scoring he’s previously shown, pouring in a very solid 26.1 points per game. Accompanying this scoring prowess were 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.0 steals, as well as the defense that he has always possessed. These numbers showcased a monumental leap from his previous performances and solidified his position as the new star of the franchise.

What’s truly remarkable about Bridges’ performance wasn’t just the statistical improvement but the impact he made on the team’s dynamics. He seamlessly integrated into the roster, establishing himself not just as a scorer but also as a leader both on and off the court. His ability to make others better was evident, elevating the game of the young and role players, and forming an interesting core with his co-starters.

As the upcoming season looms, the spotlight will undoubtedly be on Bridges. The question on everyone’s mind is whether he can sustain this level of excellence and lead the Nets to greater heights. With a supporting cast that includes the likes of Nic Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, Ben Simmons—as rough as he can be—and Cam Johnson, Bridges finds himself in a position to pump up a formidable force in the Eastern Conference.

The pressure is on, but if his performance last season is any indication, Bridges is more than up to the task. His work ethic, resilience, and adaptability have already transformed him from a role player to a star, almost effortlessly. Now, he stands at the doorsteps of a perennial All-Star, armed with the experience and confidence gained from his breakout season.

The synergy between Bridges and his teammates, especially his former Suns companion Cam Johnson, adds an exciting layer to the Nets’ gameplay. Their chemistry, honed through their grind in Phoenix, provides Brooklyn with a strategic advantage that could prove invaluable during crucial moments in games.

Net fans and NBA heads in general will have their eyes glued on Mikal Bridges this 2023-24 campaign. The once-dysfunctional Nets have found a gem in this talented forward, and if he continues to rise to the occasion, there’s no telling how far he can lead his team. 

If he comes through with a good run, ‘Mikal Bridges’ could be name that will echo through the world in the next several seasons. He’s simply an easy player to like: a mellow guy with high-scoring and defensive abilities generates instant attraction among hoop fans.