Michigan State Basketball: Use of Miles Bridges setting bad precendent

The current use of Miles Bridges is setting a bad precedent for future Michigan State basketball recruits.

Many are relishing the Miles Bridges show. Michigan State’s freshman forward puts on a show attacking the basket with high-flying dunks and sparking publicity from many who don’t typically follow Michigan State.

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Returning after a seven-game recovery of an ankle injury, some expected Bridges to take some time to fully recover, but he disproved that conception with powerful dunks immediately upon his return, and two games later is again playing the most minutes on the team.

Bridges is the most talented and complete player Tom Izzo has gotten out of high school and while he has met and exceeded lofty expectations, the team’s offense has sputtered by failing to develop a rhythm, and relying too much on his athleticism to bail it out.

In several ways, the way the team’s use of Bridges is setting a poor precedent for other blue-blood recruits the team recruits now and in the future.

First, the team is forcing Miles Bridges to play out of position. Because of its paper-thin front court, the team is forced to play Bridges at power forward, contrasting with his most natural fit as a wing player. Being so multi-dimensional and able to score in several ways, he could flourish most on the wing where gets the ball in more places with more options. He’s not at his best playing with his back to the basket on offense and defense.

While these are skills the future pro can benefit from learning, most advantageous for him and the team would be to put him in positions that highlight his skills most.

Second, Bridges is being forced to do too much. If a recruit wants to immediately lead a team in so many categories – in this case points, rebounds and minutes – he does not commit to an elite program. The star recruit wants to play alongside teammates of similar high caliber. Michigan State would be better off showing it can succeed while providing the recruit the opportunity to play with other stars.

Third, Bridges is not playing enough with the team’s expert passer, Cassius Winston. Bridges said that the opportunity to play with Winston was a key reason he committed to Michigan State, and Bridges committed soon after Winston’s commitment. And though Winston is outperforming the upperclassman he sits behind, he is playing four fewer minutes per game, while still leading the Big Ten in assists.

Now, in an era of nationwide recruiting of high schoolers, five-star recruits play together and often times form package deals committed to playing for the same college. Bridges will have a shorter stint playing college basketball before leaving to the NBA, during which he should be given the opportunity to be on the court with the point guard he wanted to play with.

Finally, though teams are becoming younger, many highly-rated recruits appreciate having mentors whom they can learn from. Bridges is not getting that.

Bridges is doing a great job contributing however he can. However, the way he is used could be deterring high school superstars.

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