In what many will consider one of the poorer rookie of the year races of all time, Malcolm Brogdon emerged from the sludge with the trophy and bragging rights for the next year. I say that not to disparage what Brogdon did this past season, his calming demeanor and steady two-way play were a huge boon and necessary for a depressing Bucks’ backcourt, but it’s hard to deny the nominees didn’t exactly inspire twinkling thoughts of superstardom in the future. This also comes on the heels of Brogdon being named to the All-NBA Rookie First Team earlier today.
Joel Embiid’s iffy injury history, playing in just 31 games last year, and the fact it’s technically his third year in the league brought an immense amount of qualifiers to his candidacy. Dario Saric put up numbers, but many of them came when Philadelphia were staring headlong into the tanking wall at the end of the year. There is not necessarily a fair comparison given their differing games, but Bucks fans remember all too well the last Philly rookie to win the award after running their circus for a spell.
Embiid’s overall impact when he was on the court was objectively greater than Brogdon’s, plus he somehow turned an abhorrent team into an average one. Brogdon though deserves plenty of credit for proving wrong the many doubters that let him slip into the second round and fitting in seamlessly with Giannis Antetokounmpo. In any other system, he may not have the mix of athleticism or ball skills to function as a point guard, but the limited necessities of the position in Milwaukee helped unlock his potential as a passer and off-ball shooter. His 40.4% from three was genuinely surprising to me, and I hope it holds up next season. The nifty chemistry he showed while operating amidst the giants low showed poise and a passing vision that will serve him well going forward.
Plus he yammed on Lebron James, that seems more than worthy of the award regardless. Hopefully winning this award in a dubious year won't haunt him, but I can't imagine anything rattling Brogdon at this point.