Even with a 24-9 record and a No. 3 seeding in the NCAA Tournament, it's been a difficult year for the Michigan State Spartans, though most of it has come from off-court issues.
But on Friday night, Michigan State and star forward Miles Bridges start their March Madness against No. 14 Bucknell in what is expected to be the final games of the sophomore's collegiate career.
While there will be a plethora of scouts keeping an eye on Bridges, the New York Knicks will likely keep close tabs on Bridges.
The Knicks and Bridges have been linked since the beginning of the 2017-18 NBA season with the 19-year-old telling Metro New York contributor Adam Zagoria that "I'll be extremely happy," if he was drafted by the Knicks.
It wasn't too long before it was revealed that the feeling was mutual. ESPN's Ian Begley reported that some within the organization were "high" on Bridges.
New York has intriguing pieces at almost every position despite being on track to miss the playoffs for the fifth-consecutive year. The Knicks have assembled a collection of intriguing point guards in Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, two international youngsters who could develop into serviceable floor generals. Though Jeff Hornacek has experimented with playing one of them at the 2.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is in the midst of a four-year, $71 million contract that should keep him slated as the starting shooting guard next year should the team be able to trade Courtney Lee, who was the subject of rumors at the deadline in February. In the frontcourt, Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise at the 4 while Enes Kanter is the team's third-leading scorer and leading rebounder at center.
That would leave a noticeable vacancy at the small forward position, which could be filled nicely by Bridges. The Michigan State product led his team in scoring with 16.9 points per game to go with 6.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
A high-flying athletic talent at 6-foot-7, Bridges would have to continue improving on his perimeter game if he wants to successfully make the jump to the NBA, but his quickness presents the opportunity of him becoming an imposing defender on the wing. He is already a strong rebounder given his size and his court vision could only help open up the Knicks offense in the future:
But he might not be the team's only option. The steadily improving Mikal Bridges out of Villanova could eclipse Michigan State's Miles into the top-10 where the Knicks, currently slated at No. 9 are picking.