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Nets’ Mikal Bridges named runner up for NBA’s top teammate award

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Nets forward Mikal Bridges was recently named a runner up for the NBA’s 2023-24 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, finishing with 47 first-place votes.

Mike Conley Jr. of the Minnesota Timberwolves won the award with 51 first-place votes, while Jalen Brunson of the Knicks rounded out the Top 3 with 29 first-place votes.

While Bridges ultimately finished in second place, him being named one of 12 finalists obviously speaks volumes about how his teammates, and others around the league, continue to view the forward even after a disappointing season in Brooklyn.

“You could say it was a failure,100%,” Bridges said. “It’s tough, you know? Especially seeing the teams that are in there [the playoffs] and you just know the talent we have and things like that… It’s definitely tough. Didn’t want this, but you got to learn from it. You got to be better. That’s the biggest thing I take from it.”

The 27-year-old averaged 19.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists while appearing in all 82 games for the Nets. At one point, some thought he was close to earning his first career All-Star nod.

However, as Brooklyn’s season went on and losses continued to pile up, his production took a dip, the heavy minutes he was routinely asked to play seemingly took a toll, and there were fans who questioned if he even wanted to remain a Net going forward, considering the success Brunson and his other former Villanova teammates were having over in Manhattan.

A lot of it was just smoke. Bridges’ teammates never questioned his loyalty, his abilities, or his desire to win.

“Because of how he played at the end of the last season, everybody went, ‘look at him,’ and had their questions and suspicions, but at the end of the day, I’m proud of him,” Cam Johnson said. “I’m proud of him, and I’ve seen strides in his game, I’ve seen strides in the way he sees and reads the game and his ability to play with the ball in his hand and his shot-making and his overall level for the game is increasing, ever-increasing. So, there’s no worry, there’s no doubt, there’s no — people are so quick to be like, ‘Oh, maybe he’s not who we thought he was.’ And whatever that may be, he’s only getting better. I got full faith, and everybody went through the same thing the second half of the year.”

Bridges admitted he let his emotions get the better of him at various points this season. Heading into 2024-25 with a new head coach in Jordi Fernandez, he knows he has to improve his mindset and showcase better mental toughness.

“I get really super frustrated,” Bridges said. “At least I know in my heart what it was for, you know? It’s not in no selfish way, I just want to win. I definitely have to be better. That’s another thing I’m taking [away from] this year. With the goals and when things get tough, you might get hit with an uppercut and how are we going to react to that? I think I did a good job of that, and I think it’s just personally on wanting to win so bad. So, when any little thing didn’t look right or went wrong, it ticked me off even more. I think just being better mentally.”

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