The Brooklyn Nets may have won the Kevin Durant trade thanks to Mikal Bridges

Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

With how good Mikal Bridges has looked, the Brooklyn Nets may be viewed as the team that won the Kevin Durant trade in the long run. 

When the Brooklyn Nets traded superstar Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns, the news dominated the airwaves and all of the talk was about how he would put that organization over the top automatically making them one of the favorites to win the NBA championship.

As always, superstars make the headlines and are often the focus of these blockbuster deals. With that being established, sometimes a change of scenery with different circumstances and responsibilities can do some good for certain players.

New teammates, new circumstances, and a new situation is what Mikal Bridges had to face once he found out the news that he was part of a package that would send Durant to Phoenix and land himself and his teammate Cam Johnson in Brooklyn. Bridges would go from a team that was expected to compete for a title to a team struggling team barely staying afloat in the Eastern Conference but things have worked out better than expected.

The Brooklyn Nets have a bright future with Mikal Bridges

Even though the Nets will be watching the NBA Finals from home this year, they do realize that they have a chance to be special next season as Bridges has exploded on the scene and has led the Nets with huge performances.

It didn’t take long either as he posted a career-high 45 points in just his third game with the team. Just a few days ago he scored 44 points against the Orlando Magic while going 6-9 from behind the arc despite a losing effort. Bridges has proven that he has always had the potential to be much more and that really stood out when Devin Booker sat out due to injury earlier this season.

In the 26 games Booker missed, Bridges stepped up and delivered as he averaged 18.8 points during that span really showcasing that he could carry an offense if given the opportunity. Even though he is talented offensively, Bridges is widely known and respected for his defensive prowess as one of the best defenders in the league.

Bridges was named to the All-NBA First Team Defense last year and finished 2nd in Defensive Player of the Year voting only behind winner Marcus Smart. What’s scary is that Bridges hasn’t even reached his true potential, and as the Nets begin to acquire more talent, he will just continue to improve and get better.

Bridges is under contract until after the 2025-26 season and the Nets acquired four first-round picks from the Suns. If the Nets front office can figure out how to free up some cap space in order to acquire another quality player in free agency, preferably an established veteran such as Demarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee, Kristaps Porzingis or even bringing back Jeff Green, it would be a positive step in the right direction.

We shouldn’t be surprised if Bridges makes his 1st all-star appearance next season as he is expected to continue being the leader of this team going forward. Bridges should also garner consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award as well. A player like Bridges is good for the game of basketball.

While he was a member of the Suns, they always knew that Bridges was good enough to become a primary option on offense, but Bridges, being the team player that he is, was willing to sacrifice personal stats for the overall good of the team and did what was asked of him plus more.

It had to be difficult for the Suns to part ways with a player of Bridges’ caliber but the Nets had to receive a proper return on investment and ended up striking gold in the process considering that they traded away a future Hall of Famer in Durant. If we were to compare the statistics between Durant’s and Bridges’s time with the Nets this season, there really isn’t much of a drop-off. Let’s compare.

Durant vs. Bridges 

  • PPG – 29.7 vs. 26.8 
  • RPG – 6.7 vs. 4.6 
  • APG – 5.3 vs. 2.6 
  • FT% – 93% vs. 91%
  • 3PT% – 38% vs. 41% 
  • FG% – 56% vs. 50%

The Nets have a player who is elite defensively, who can efficiently score at all levels, and who is also a great locker-room presence. They have a player who doesn’t miss games in an era of load management and a defensive star who is transforming into an offensive weapon.

Bridges is a defensive machine who now has been given the green light to lead an offense and he has done a spectacular job. The excitement should be building in Brooklyn due to what the fans can expect from their squad next season as they are getting a glimpse of what the future will be like.

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We will also see which one of these teams benefitted the most from this trade in the very near future.