It’s nearly the regular season folks, which means it’s time to start contrived “countdown to tipoff” pieces. Our series will be called the Calculated Countdown, where we take a particular statistic from last season that corresponds to the number of days left till tipoff and analyze it in the context of this upcoming year. Today we’re examining the productive duo known by many nicknames, Malcolm Brogdon and Greg Monroe.
8 Days to Tipoff: Brogdon and Monroe together posted an 8.6 net rating
BrogRoe. The Bruise Brothers. Whatever you may call the combination of Milwaukee’s sixth man and their second-rounder turned ROY, the one word that matters for them is productive. They were one of the most productive two-man lineups that the Bucks threw out last season, posting an 8.6 net rating in the 1007 minutes they shared the court last season. Lineup statistics are always a little dicey, particularly just two-man lineups since they completely eliminate the context 5-man figures provide, but the success of Brogdon and Monroe together illustrates their potency as a duo.
That figure is by far the best among the eight 2-man groups Milwaukee had that played at least 1,000 minutes together last year. Second best is Giannis and Brogdon at a 5.7 net rating. Dig deeper and you find better ratings like Jason Terry and Monroe (9.5) or Brogdon and Terry (8.8), but what differentiates the BrogRoe combo from those others was their evident chemistry on the court. Almost from the time Brogdon started getting second-unit minutes with Monroe, there was a preternatural link between the two.
Monroe brought out the best in Brogdon’s passing skills. Malcolm can’t sniff out passing lanes as effectively from the perimeter, but he operates like Neo when barreling into the paint with Monroe there. Monroe’s mastered the art of the baseline and under-the-bucket creep. He lingers there on the block asking for post-ups, but when Malcolm starts driving, you’ll see him slip away slightly to provide a smidge more space. Suddenly, Brogdon has the crevice he needs once Monroe’s defender swivels over and Moose has the ball in the basket quicker than you can say, “AND ONE.” That connection resulted in plenty of easy buckets last year, and Brogdon passed to Monroe more than anyone not named Giannis or Jabari. On the 1.6 field goal attempts Monroe had per game off Brogdon passes, he shot 61.2%, the best of anyone who received passes from Brogdon and significantly better than his 53.3% FG percentage for the season.
There’s no arguing with their production, but the other question that remains with this pairing is how much they’ll actually share the floor together this year. Looking at the pre- and post-All Star splits from last year, they averaged 14.8 minutes per game before the break and just 11.0 per game afterwards. From a net rating standpoint, their pre-AS break was a whopping 11.3 while post was -1.5. Now, that latter number is from a significantly smaller sample size (220 versus 787 in the first half) but it underscores the switch Brogdon made from bench player to starter during most of the second half. I’ll trust the chunk of first half success that passes the statistical and eye test, but it will be up to Milwaukee’s coaches to find ways to get these two together on the floor consistently as Brogdon continues working with the starters.