Finding a comparison for Charlotte Hornets rookie Miles Bridges

Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Charlotte Hornets rookie Miles Bridges has had a solid first season, and has looked pretty similar to a former Slam Dunk Contest winner.

I’ll be honest, prior to the 2018 NBA Draft, I was not very high on Charlotte Hornets rookie Miles Bridges. Watching him play this season has made me question as to why, though.

The 12th overall pick out of Michigan State has shown a lot of promise as a rookie. Charlotte Hornets fans believe he has potential to become a star, and I’m not going to go that far, but I do believe he has a chance to be a very good player.

We all know about his athletic ability. He’ll be competing in the Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend, and has had some flat out disgusting dunks throughout his rookie year. So far, he’s reminding me of a former NBA player that also competed in and won the Dunk Contest.

Josh Smith.

Remember him? J-Smoove played in 894 NBA games and was so much fun to watch early in his career as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He took a lot of heat later in his NBA career due to his struggles on the court, but overall, he was a really good player and had a great career.

Smith most recently played for New Orleans during the 2017-18 season. He only appeared in three games, and those could have been his last three NBA games. He’s 33 years old now, but has no NBA return in sight.

He owns career averages of 14.5 points, 7.4 rebounds 3.1 assists and 1.9 blocks. He wasn’t a star player, but he was a really good player.

The more I watch Bridges play and the more I think about the comparison, the more I like it. They are both rugged combo forwards that are freakishly athletic but lack shooting and ball handling.

Bridges, of course, has a ton of time to work on those areas, and I’m sure he will improve. I’ve seen improvements already during his rookie season. He seems pretty comfortable shooting the corner three and has put the ball on the floor more and more as we progress through the season.

When comparing Smith’s rookie season to Bridges’ rookie season, there is a large difference in playing time. Smith got 27.7 minutes per game as a rookie compared to Bridges’ 19.1 minutes. Therefore, the stats will favor Smith.

However, if you look at the per 36 minutes statistics of both players as rookies, they are nearly identical. Take a look:

The big difference here is the three-point percentage. Smith was never a reliable shooter, and neither is Bridges at the moment, but he did show signs in college and has a pretty nice looking stroke. He’ll get better overtime as long as he puts in the work.

Smith shot 29 percent from three-point territory during his 13 year career in the NBA.

Bridges is unique, which is why it can be tough to find a comparison for the rookie. He’s so explosive, has a strong body, he’s a combo forward and has potential from the perimeter.

I’ve heard names like Rudy Gay and Jerome Kersey being thrown around, but I think Smith is an absolute fair comparison for Bridges.

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Regardless, the Charlotte Hornets have a really good young player in Bridges. They were hesitant to include him in any trade package, and you can see why. He’s got a lot of upside and could be one of the building blocks for this ball club.