Assessing Miles Bridges, Caleb Swanigan, and More

January 24, 2017

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch a Big 10 conference game between Purdue and Michigan State, as it featured several top prospects for the NBA in Michigan State’s freshman forward, Miles Bridges, and Purdue’s sophomore center Caleb Swanigan.  The game went back and forth, but ultimately Purdue came out on top to get the win.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day.

Michigan State’s 6-8 freshman forward, Miles Bridges put forth a terrific performance in a loss to Purdue.  He really excelled at shooting and scoring the basketball, was active on the glass, and he also defended well throughout the contest.  Bridges displayed a great ability to shoot the basketball, as he really excelled at knocking down threes to space the floor for his team.  Bridges showed a terrific ability to make spot-up threes off the catch, but he also showed an ability to make pull-up threes when he was on the floor.

Plus, he also really excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores.  Bridges showed a magnificent ability to finish plays at the rim, as he would often run the floor and beat his man down court to garner scores.  He was able to throw down multiple thunderous jams off of off-ball motion plays, as he has the hands to catch lob passes to score on alley-oop dunks, and he also can ably score on drives, even when in traffic.  However, sometimes, he would play a bit too out of control, which would lead to misses.

He also showed off decent playmaking skills.  Bridges showed the ability to make an assortment of passes when he looks for his teammates, but sometimes he can be inaccurate with his passing which can lead to the occasional turnover.  Also, Bridges showed adequate rebounding skills.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, as he was able to get a tip dunk off of an offensive rebound in the second half.  Plus, he also would use his leaping skills to get tough boards on occasion.

He also showcased solid defensive skills.  Bridges did a tremendous job of blocking shots, as he used his length, vast athleticism, and timing to swat multiple shots that were hoisted up in the paint.  He generally did a good job of contesting shots off the dribble to force misses.  But he did have some trouble defending in the post, as he was matched up against bigger, stronger opponents on the block.

In summary, Miles Bridges had a magnificent showing as he arguably had the best individual performance among all players that played in this game.  He is a very athletic combination forward that has the potential to excel as a two-way player in the NBA, and he could be a worthwhile lottery pick in the upcoming draft as he may have All-Star potential at the next level.

Purdue’s 6-9 sophomore center, Caleb Swanigan also played very well, as he lead his team to a double-digit victory over Michigan State.  He really excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder, but the most interesting development is his ability to knock down threes when he is on the floor.  Swanigan did a great job of making jumpers from beyond the arc.  He really excels at knocking down threes off the catch, as he can spot up to do so, or make them off of pick and pop plays after setting screens for his team.

Also, he showed off very good low post scoring skills.  Swanigan has tremendous strength as he would often obtain deep post position on the block, as he would generally score on drop step moves, jump hooks, and once on a fadeaway jumper.  He also was quite active as a finisher around the paint, as he was able to score on a put back off of an offensive rebound.  However, Swanigan had more trouble scoring when he would look to do so off the dribble, as he does not possess a great first step to the basket.

However, he only displayed average playmaking skills at best.  For the positives, Swanigan generally played patiently and unselfishly, as he was able to make a couple of good passes from the post to find open shooters, and he also made some good interior passes.  But he was very turnover prone against Michigan State.  He made some hasty passes at times, set moving screens, and he also had trouble protecting the basketball in this game.

Swanigan did a fantastic job of rebounding the basketball.  He was a chairman of the boards, as he would haul in many rebounds on both end of the floor.  He possesses a great motor, as he will get to the balls more quickly than his opponents, as this allowed him to score on a put back.   Plus, he also would aggressively leap up to haul in defensive boards, as he would fly in to do so.  On the other hand, he just did not at all play good defense in this game.  For the positives, Swanigan showed a willingness to deflect passes, and he once contested a drive to force a miss.

But, he was constantly out of position and late on his rotations.  He struggled to move his feet when defending the post or drives, which would lead him to commit fouls or allow scores.  Plus, he also would have lapses defensively, as he would allow opponents to score off of a cut and a roll.  Also, he once gave up too much space to a shooter to allow his man to score on a three-point shot.

Right now, Caleb Swanigan has been one of the best players in college basketball, as he is a points and rebounds machine at this level.  But there may be questions as to how well he may fare in the NBA, and what his upside may exactly be.  Despite the vast production, he is only rated in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.  But perhaps, maybe he could be like Carlos Boozer with at three-point shot, and if that is the case, Swanigan could be a very solid pick for the NBA team that may draft him in the future.

7-1 junior center, Isaac Haas also played fairly well in a win for Purdue.  Though he did only receive limited minutes and ran into turnover trouble, Haas did a very good job of getting buckets when posting up, as his size and inside scoring skills proved to be quite a handful for Michigan State defenders to handle.

Haas showed off good low post scoring skills.  He was often able to score on jump hooks, and he would use his size and strength to draw many free throws around the basket.   Plus, he showed a good ability to pass out of the post to find open shooters.  However, he also tended to be a bit turnover prone when posting up, as he would struggle to protect the basketball, showed questionable footwork, and sometimes would lower a shoulder that would lead him to commit an offensive foul.  Also, he did not rebound nor defend well.  He did not collect many boards when he was on the floor, and he did not show great lateral mobility, which hurt his ability to contest shots when defending.

Right now, Haas may be a borderline second round pick.  An NBA team may pick him on sheer size, and that he also has some inside scoring skills, but Haas is not very mobile for a big man, as he may struggle vastly in a pace and space type of game.  He will need to prove to NBA teams that he can excel when the pace really picks up, as he has not been a consistent performer recently this season.

Purdue’s 6-8 junior forward Vince Edwards had a decent showing in a win over Michigan State.  He showed the ability to get to the hoop to garner scores, as well as adequate passing and rebounding skills.  Edwards showed a decent ability to score on the move.  He was able to score on a put back, as well as off of a cut, though he had his shot rejected a couple of times when attempting to score off of other offensive boards.

He did show an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  He does not possess great speed or vertical leaping ability, but Edwards has the strength and body control to draw many free throws when taking the ball all the way to the basket.  Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills.  He is a good passer that plays unselfishly, and he generally threw solid interior passes.  But he did commit a couple of turnovers, as one was a lazy pass that he threw that was intercepted, and another was when he slipped on the floor and traveled while he lost the ball out of bounds.

Plus, he also displayed good rebounding skills.  He was quite active on the glass, especially on the offensive end, as he was able to get his team multiple scoring chances after hauling in a handful of offensive rebounds.  However, Edwards did not play well on the defensive end of the court.  He tended to be out of position, as he struggled to move his feet to defend opponents off the dribble or when defending jumpers, and he would be late in his rotations, which would lead him to allow numerous scores.

Right now, Vince Edwards may be a borderline second round candidate, as he is a pass-first player that seems to play a like a point forward.  But he struggled to score consistently, did not show much of a jump shot, and he also did not defend very well.  He will need to show teams that he can do these things fairly well at the next level.  If he can, he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

6-3 senior combo guard Eron Harris showed a fairly good ability to shoot the basketball, as he excelled at making threes after running off of screens, and he also made a pull-up mid-range jumper.  He did not show much else in terms of other skills, but if he makes his way to the NBA, perhaps he could be a similar player to that of current San Antonio Spurs’ rookie guard, Bryn Forbes.

6-5 freshman guard Josh Langford did not stand out, as he did not look for his own shot very often.  But, he did show the ability to make a three off the catch, and he also was able to find an open shooter to notch an assist.  He did not get many chances to show his skills, but he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

In all, this was a competitive game where both of the first round prospects, Miles Bridges and Caleb Swanigan had standout performances respectively for their teams.  In the end, Purdue made key plays down the stretch, as they were able to hold on to get the victory.  Bridges and Swanigan both could be players that could excel in the NBA, and they were able to really flourish in this game.  That is all for today, and thank you for reading.

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