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 looking at Malcolm Brogdon’s assist skills when barreling towards the hoop.
15 days to tipoff: 15.2% of team assists credited to Malcolm Brogdon on drives
Really, this is meant to be a broader discussion of Malcolm Brogdon’s ability to improve this year, particularly as a paint penetrator. Brogdon isn’t nimble. Brogdon isn’t quick. Brogdon can barely jump over a few candle sticks. But he sure does still like to drive to the basket, ranking in the 85th percentile among all qualified guards last year in terms of drives per game at 6.0. I was a little surprised by that number given Brogdon’s lack of blow-by ability, but his length gives him added opportunity to sneak a finish over someone. Case in point:
Still, his 54.3% shooting on 3.7 attempts/game in the restricted area is middle of the pack and other shots he’d commonly take on drives aren’t great shakes either. He went 35.1% on 1 attempt/game in the paint outside the restricted area and 38.9% on 1.2 mid-rangers/game. Those aren’t super detrimental given the low volume, but floaters are generally a zero-sum game for point guards. Everyone knows about the terrors of shooting mid-rangers, and Brogdon has rarely been able to shake free for a clear shot from that area.
Where Brogdon’s game could use a shot in the arm is that finishing around the rim. His body is bulky enough, particularly after a year of professional conditioning, that he should be able to absorb contact and get to the free throw line. His 86.5% mark at the stripe ranked second on the team only to Khris Middleton, but he attempted the 7th least free throws on the team (1.7). Nearly half (0.7) of those came on drives, and while he shouldn’t take away driving opportunities from the terror that is Giannis, there’s additional efficiency he could eke out by forcing contact with his frame. Leave the finesse finishes to the tiny point guards, Brogdon has build at his advantage.
Brogdon knows his lane though, and that 15.2% figure in regards to assists reflect a willingness to defer on his drives. His 44.4% pass percentage on drives is a few notches below prolific driver and passer Goran Dragic, who hurls it to a teammate 45.9% of the time. Brogdon driving eliminates a spacer on the floor for Giannis penetration, but he showed enough craft with the ball to flip passes through tight spaces to a cutting Giannis or skulking Greg Monroe. More likely this year though, given their ideal starting lineup, Brogdon drives would allow Thon to draw big men to the perimeter. That vacates the paint, giving Brogdon another spacing outlet outside while simultaneously creating space for Giannis to slip inside and act as his de facto Monroe in this instance.
Brogdon clearly has deficiencies as a point guard, but his ability to work off-ball in Milwaukee suits him. Still, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to mosey his way inside throughout the year and try to create on his own. Hopefully he’ll find ways to incrementally improve the strengths he showed in that department last year.