Pelicans: Players for Nickeil Alexander-Walker to study- Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
When thinking of Mikal Bridges, the first thing that pops into my head is a hard-nosed durable 3-and-D stopper. The third-year man out of Villanova has become an essential piece to the Suns this year.
In his first full season as a starter, Bridges regularly guards the best player every night and will match up with LeBron James throughout the series. Both he and NAW are billed at 6-foot-6 and roughly 205 pounds. The size similarities are uncanny. Defensively, Bridges holds himself to a level Alexander-Walker needs to reach if he and the New Orleans Pelicans want to make a deep playoff run.
With Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram not projecting to be defensive stoppers, Alexander-Walker and Lonzo Ball seem like apparent fits to share the mantle of defensive stoppers. But, watching Bridges, these playoffs should personify Alexander-Walker the idea that he can be an elite defender.
Whilst some of Bridges’ defensive tendencies are naturally better than Alexander-Walker, Bridges fights tooth and nail, whoever the assignment is. That grit and determination are what Alexander-Walker needs to take away. All the other intangibles and understanding will come with time, but the fight and ‘dog’ mentality is what will push Alexander-Walker over the edge.