The Charlotte Hornets pulled of a trade, picking up a pair of future second-round picks from the Clippers, sliding down to No. 12 and landing Miles Bridges.
The Hornets found themselves in a tough spot in the draft, needing to land a star to pair with Kemba Walker but finding themselves in the draft range where solid second and third contributors are more likely. The Hornets were able to swing a trade, landing a pair of future second-round picks to slide down, let the Clippers take Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and still have Miles Bridges waiting for them at No. 12.
Bridges likely ends up spending time at both forward spots — with the strength to overwhelm some wings but not quite enough height to really bang down low. In an ideal world, he’ll have the best of both worlds — exploiting lighter perimeter players in the post and on the glass while blowing past bigger players.
Bridges was projected as a lottery pick last season but elected to return to Michigan State for his sophomore year. He continued to impress, averaging 17.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, shooting 52.7 percent inside the arc and 36.4 percent on the 3-pointer. There are questions about how his shooting will translate to the longer NBA 3-point line but he should at least be respectable in that area and has a well-rounded offensive game. In particular, growing his playmaking and maintaining a respectable 3-point shooting mark really helped him this year.
In a perfect world, Bridges would eventually supplant Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the wing, complementing Malik Monk and Walker with his versatile skill set and physicality. The Hornets have useful players up and down their roster but not quite enough quality to hold it all together. With his physical profile and polish, Bridges could be just the guy.