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Can Mikal Bridges be the next Kawhi Leonard?

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An athletic wing that can shoot and defend... sounds about right

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Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! With the deadline for players to declare for the NBA Draft passing over the weekend, we have a ton of new content on the players that could, should, or won’t hear their names called in June. We’ve talked a lot over the past two weeks about the futures of Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman, both of whom are “testing the waters”. So let’s pivot and talk about an officially former Wildcat who’s likely going to be a Top 10 pick, Mikal Bridges.

In our first article today, NBA.com suggests that Bridges could be a “Kawhi Leonard in waiting”. That’s high praise, seeing the Leonard is a two time NBA defensive player of the year and has won an NBA championship. Then again, Bridges was the Big East defensive player of the year and has won two NCAA championships. So of course I jumped down the internet rabbit hole to see how these two really compared in college.

Bridges and Leonard both averaged over 15 points, around 2 assists, and more than 1.4 steals per game in their final seasons. Bridges was the better shooter and shot blocker, while Leonard was the superior rebounder on both ends of the court. Bridges played against stiffer competition as a redshirt junior, but Leonard was only in college for half the time Mikal was.

Bottom line, I think Kawhi Leonard would be the “ceiling” for Bridges NBA career arc. But that’s not why he’s going to be taken as a Top 10 pick. Bridges has possibly the highest “floor” of any player in the draft. He’s a proven Champion with well above average shooting and defense that shows outstanding character and leadership on and off the court. He may not ever become the start that Leonard has, few players do. But I’d bet on him having a long, successful, and certainly impactful NBA career.

I just can’t stress this enough... please don’t let that start with the Knicks.

In other “news”, more of the same on the Big Ragu and O Boogie, Mock Draft Mania, and more updates from the recruiting trail. Enjoy!

Wings in 2018 Draft class solid, but future stars are few and far between | NBA.com
In an NBA era where everyone has to be able to shoot, this is not the year you’re going to find a lot of wings who can light it up.

Villanova Basketball: How will NBA Draft decisions affect the Wildcats? | Busting Brackets
Two Villanova basketball stars have declared for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent. How will the final decisions of these players affect the team?

The Most Influential Testing The Water Decisions | NBC Sports
There are 11 teams and 19 players here that will change how college basketball is viewed next season.

2018 NBA Lottery Mock Draft Machine | ESPN
ESPN Insider Jonathan Givony breaks down 2,184 potential NBA lottery scenarios based on the current standings. Play the mock draft and see your team's chance to land the #1 pick in the NBA Draft.

2019 NBA mock draft | ESPN ($)
ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony projects a new top 60 for the 2019 NBA draft class. He has Spellman at #25 overall, but DiVincenzo isn't on the board. This is Givony's not so subtle way of saying he thinks Donte is heading to the NBA this year.

Top performers from first weekend of spring evaluation period | 247 Sports
Our college basketball team picks top performers from the weekend's first spring evaluation period.

Hot Board: It's the stretch run for uncommitted seniors | ESPN
The Hoosiers appear to be a likely landing spot for top recruit Romeo Langford as decisions loom for this year's uncommitted seniors. Villanova is all set with a Top 10 2018 class.