MSU’s Bridges drafted by Clippers, traded to Hornets

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Miles Bridges’ versatility convinced Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak to take a chance on him in the first round.

Bridges is thrilled he did.

The Hornets wound up with the Michigan State wingman in the first round of the NBA draft after trading down one spot with the LA Clippers.

Charlotte initially selected point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Kentucky with the 11th overall pick, but traded him to the Clippers for the 12th overall pick and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. The Clippers then selected Bridges for the Hornets.

“He’s one of the highest character players in the draft, very athletic, plays hard, and he’s very versatile,” Kupchak said. “… There is not much to not like about Miles Bridges.”

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte later traded up to No. 34 overall with Atlanta to draft Kansas point guard Devonte Graham, a consensus All-American who averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists per game last season. Graham, who is from Raleigh, North Carolina, is expected to backup two-time All-Star Kemba Walker, providing the team doesn’t trade him. The Hornets surrendered second round picks in 2019 and 2023 to get him.

Charlotte initially took shooting guard Hamiduo Diallo from Kentucky at No. 45 as part of the impending trade that will send Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets, but then sent his rights to Oklahoma City.

The Hornets drafted Arnoldas Kulboka from Lithunia at No. 55.

Kupchak said Bridges can play both the three and four position on offense at the NBA level just as he did at Michigan State, and also has the size and athleticism to guard four positions on defense.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Bridges was a unanimous All-Big 10 first team choice after averaging 17 points and seven rebounds last season for the Spartans. He ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring last season, 11th in rebounding and fourth in free throw percentage (85.3 percent).

Bridges is expected to be a better offensive option at small forward than starter Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is considered a strong defender but not a great scorer. Bridges has an NBA ready body and is one of the most explosive leapers in the draft. He scored frequently on perimeter spot ups and off screens while with the Spartans as well as on pick and roll opportunities.

“I want to get better at ballhandling so I can create my own shot and just be a threat everywhere on the floor from the 3 to midrange to getting to the basket,” Bridges said. “I definitely want to be more aggressive. I felt like in my college career I could have been more aggressive.”

Bridges did not work out for the Hornets despite the team’s repeated attempts to bring him in. Bridges said he had planned to visit after working out in Los Angeles, but “something popped up.”

Some Hornets fans on social media were upset over the team’s decision to pass on Michael Porter Jr., who went two picks later to the Denver Nuggets at No. 14.

Kupchak said the team had talked extensively about Porter in the weeks leading up the draft but decided to “move in a different direction” after he cancelled the playing portion of his scheduled workout in Chicago.

Kupchak is off to a busy start as Hornets general manager.

His decision to trade down comes one day after agreeing to trade eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets for center Timofey Mozgov and two second-round draft picks, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the league cannot approve the deal until the trade moratorium ends on July 6.

The 32-year-old Howard was due to make $23.8 million in the final year of his contract next season.

The Hornets failed to make the playoffs last season for the third time in four seasons, prompting owner Michael Jordan to part ways with general manager Rich Cho and coach Steve Clifford.

Kupchak hired James Borrego as the team’s new head coach in May.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/23868887/charlotte-hornets-land-miles-bridges-trade-la-clippers

SportsPen June 7, 2018: Beilein explains decision, NBA Finals are over, Packers swag

Blake Froling and Jake Durant discuss John Belein’s explanation for returning to Michigan, Jake’s sad about the NBA Finals, Shea Patterson got drafted and the Packers’ secondary has “swag” according to Jake.

Mock draft roundup for Bridges, Jackson, Wagner

By Blake Froling

The NBA Finals aren’t technically over yet, but we’re already turning our attention to the NBA Draft, coming up June 21. Everywhere you look, someone has a new “Mock Draft 27.5” that promises “big changes at the top!”

Instead of making you sift through dozens of websites just to find the players you care about, I decided to do the work for you. The three players we are really interested in are Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges and Michigan’s Moe Wagner. The rest is just filler.

Here is what some of the “experts” are saying about these local stars in their latest mock drafts.

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Unsurprisingly, Jackson’s draft stock is by far the highest of the three. He’s been consistently hovering around the 2-5 range since he officially declared for the draft. Teams love Jackson’s defensive prowess and inside-outside offensive game. Plus, he’s not even 19 years old yet and has barely scratched the surface of his true potential.

CBS Sports – No. 5 (Dallas Mavericks)

Gobs of upside here. Going to Dallas would allow him the room to grow but also get playing time fairly immediately.

Sports Illustrated – No. 3 (Atlanta Hawks)

He possesses a critical duality for modern bigs: he can step out and shoot from outside, while also defending in space and protecting the rim. Jackson needs to mature physically and mentally before he can become a mainstay, but with the strides he’s made over the last couple years, he’s worth a substantial investment.

Bleacher Report – No. 5 (Dallas Mavericks)

Jackson averaged 5.5 blocks and 2.0 threes per 40 minutes during his lone season at Michigan State, which is a rare, valued mix of abilities. The Mavericks will be thrilled with that skill set and can bet on the rest of his offensive repertoire to develop over the next few years.

Miles Bridges

After returning for his sophomore season, Bridges’ stock has remained pretty much the same. He was never projected as a top-five pick and he likely won’t last past the lottery. Bridges’ fit in the NBA will be different than at Michigan State. Instead of being criticized for not taking over games and settling for 3-pointers, Bridges’ value will be directly tied to how well he hits threes and he won’t be asked to take over games yet.

Teams love wing prospects who can shoot, rebound a little and play some defense. Bridges fits the mold. His ceiling might not be as high as Jackson, but his floor is that of a solid role player.

CBS Sports – No. 14 (Denver Nuggets)

I think he falls to 14 due to players ahead of him offering up a bit more well-rounded, NBA-style skills. This is not a knock on Bridges, though, who if anything might be a tad underrated at this point.

Sports Illustrated – No. 11 (Charlotte Hornets)

Bridges immediately makes their rotation more athletic, and has enough scoring ability to conceivably contribute right away. He’s a strong, powerful player who rebounds, thrives in transition and can knock down open shots.

Bleacher Report – No. 11 (Charlotte Hornets)

Bridges should be a draft-night target for the Hornets, who need offense from both forward spots. He would work best as a small-ball stretch 4 alongside Dwight Howard, though continued progress on his shot-creating and off-the-dribble scoring should mean Bridges could also play next to Marvin Williams.

Moe Wagner

Wagner made nice strides in his game this season, but what you see is what you get. Many experts think he’s pretty close to his ceiling right now. Good shooter, not so good defender. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Shooting big men are all the rage in the NBA. Wagner will likely find a home somewhere in the second round or late first.

CBS Sports – No. 36 (New York Knicks)

The vision of a Wagner-Porzingis international team-up playing in Manhattan seems like a ton of fun.

Sports Illustrated – No. 37 (Sacramento Kings)

Bleacher Report – No. 29 (Brooklyn Nets)

The Nets could use a big man to stretch the floor, which will be Wagner’s NBA calling card. He struggles defensively, but his shooting (39.4 3FG%) and ability to attack closeouts are valued in today’s NBA.