Heading into last Thursday's NBA Draft, Malcolm Brogdon was likely not a name at the tip of most Bucks fans' tongues.
A fifth-year senior wing who built himself from unheralded recruit to first team All-American and ACC Player of the Year at Virginia, Brogdon's journey to the NBA has been long but far less circuitous than fellow Bucks draftee Thon Maker's. Brogdon's game is also decidedly anti-mixtape: more grit than glitz, more slow and steady vs. fast and flashy.
But Brogdon's workman-like style was nothing if not productive, and the Bucks are hoping that makes Brogdon one of the sleepers of a deep NBA draft class. Among wings drafted last Thursday, only Buddy Hield averaged more points per pace-adjust 40 minutes than Brogdon (24.0), no one was better from the foul line (90%) and his 4.1 assists per 40 also hint at a savvy player capable of facilitating for others when needed.
For more on Brogdon and what we might expect from him moving forward, I had a Q&A with Eric Hobeck of SB Nation's UVa blog Streaking the Lawn. You can check out my responses over there, and below are Eric's responses to my questions:
What were some of the highlights of Malcolm's time at UVA? What kind of player is he?
Malcolm's UVa career has an interesting story. He'd had a solid freshman year before breaking his foot late in the season. After redshirting in 2012-13, he really turned it on for the rest of his career. Under coach Tony Bennett's system, defense is of the utmost importance, and Brogdon's prowess on that end of the floor was the hallmark of his game. He had the second-most defensive rebounds on the team in each of his last three years, trailing only a big man every time. He essentially saved our season back in March when he held Butler's Andrew Chrabascz without a field goal in the second half after Chrabascz already put up 24 points against guys bigger than Malcolm. Offensively, he can put a team on his back when need be, like his buzzer-beater at Pitt in 2014 that a lot of people think was the turning point of that magical season. He's also the best free throw shooter in school history, so there's no need to worry about him losing his composure at the line - or any other time.
What do you see as his biggest strengths and weaknesses?
On top of what I listed above, I think his biggest strengths are his leadership ability and maturity. He was a two-time team captain, and used his extra year to earn a Master's in public policy from the leadership school. I saw that he actually raises your team's average age, which I had to laugh about. His nickname among the rest of the team was "Humble Moses," a play on his middle name and the way he doesn't do much self-promotion. He keeps his cool at all times, and if you see him yawn before game, it's not because he's mentally unprepared; that's his own way of getting in the zone. From a weakness standpoint, I might not call him un-athletic, as he had the best shuttle time in the combine, but he doesn't really go above the rim that much and keeps his game pretty low to the ground for somebody who's 6-foot-6.
Where do you think he has the biggest room for improvement?
As far as improvement goes, I think he's plateaued a tiny bit, but I also think he can break that plateau with a young, hungry team like the Bucks. UVa strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtis has a pro background and has done wonders with many of our players, including Malcolm. I think that kind of workout experience will help him with what he needs most, which is to reach that next level vertically, so he can compete better against NBA bigs.
What do you think Malcolm can bring to the Bucks?
For right now, I think he's as dependable of a backcourt player as you can get out of a 23-year-old rookie. He's the kind of perimeter defender that you can build around if Hammond and Kidd want to keep him around long-term, and I think he could check a few NBA point guards right now. Even though he's a strong ball-mover and can facilitate on both ends of the floor, he's a true 2-guard with a dead-eye shooting ability and the work ethic to end up as one of the league's best defensive players in a few years. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he ends up having a solid 10-15 year pro career.