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Calculated Countdown: 12 Days to Tipoff

Sure, spacing will help Milwaukee’s marquee three, but can someone else benefit from the added room in the lane?

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is rapidly approaching. That means it’s time for the now-annual tradition of our Calculated Countdown series examining a particular stat that corresponds to the number of days until tipoff. Today, that figure focuses on where Malcolm Brogdon harvested his points last year.

12 Days to Tipoff

“12%” of Brogdon’s points came at the free throw line

This may sound like a similar refrain to last year’s dissection of Malcolm Brogdon, but after a year stunted by injury, it’s worth revisiting what Brogdon’s role may be under the revitalized tutelage of Mike Budenholzer and staff. Last season, 12% of Brogdon’s points came at the free throw line, a slight dip from his 14.2% mark in his rookie year. That decline seems unfortunate on the surface. In reality, I chock that more up to a diversification of his game, most notably additional proficiency on his pull-up jumper. Adding those type of supplemental pieces to his game provide a more promising outlook for his potential future with the team. It also means he can fill in more gaps with the fundamentals, like drawing fouls at the rim.

By swapping out a small percentage of his shots at the rim, he added in launches from beyond the arc. That fits within Bud’s shoot-first philosophy, and will probably be necessary given the early indications that Brogdon is going to start in Tony Snell’s spot. While I’m still against that move on its face given the dearth of creators that could leave for bench units, Bud clearly has an affinity for guards whose toolbox goes beyond the typical screwdriver and wrenches (See: the Donte DiVincenzo selection). That means he’ll expect Brogdon to likely offer more than just a competent 3-point threat. If Bud’s improved spacing is really supposed to create a democratic offense with openings for everyone, Brogdon will be a fascinating test case.

I tend to forget just how much Brogdon enjoys taking the ball for a fine drive into the paint’s wilderness. His stick-um hands have already been touched on, but beyond his instinctual first-touch dribble, he also ranked third on the team in drives, with 9.6 per game last year. For reference, Eric Bledsoe ranked first at 12.2 and Giannis was second at 11.0. Brogdon acting as de facto point guard for bench units makes that figure not all that alarming, but if he’s sharing the floor with the Bucks’ two most drive-happy members, that number could pare back.

It’s doubtful it will dip too much though, he ranked second on the team his rookie year in the statistic. One key issue between his awarded rookie year and last year proved the lack of a competent chemistry down low. His 0.9 (9.6% assist percentage) lacked the 1.3 assists he averaged his first year in the league. Brogroe was a real thing, and no Bucks big man showed the same knack for diving into the space vacated by Brogdon quite like Monroe. I’m dubious Lopez will fill that role, particularly with Bud’s emphasis on placing his big men around the arc. Brogdon will likely have to keep his peepers fixated on the perimeter rather than the paint during his mildly infuriating leaps along the baseline when he unnecessarily leaves his feet.

However, the more prudent course may just be for Brogdon to test his sizable frame against the opponent’s golems down low. His 62% shooting percentage at the rim last year (a notable leap from the 54% mark his rookie year), indicates a growing ability to finish with his sneaky athleticism. His contortions may not be cirque du soleil worthy, but they’d pass in a rooftop yoga class. The hope is that increased spacing may allow his occasionally lethargic decision making to shift towards aggressiveness attacking the tin. Once there, he could stand to improve the percentage of time he draws a shooting foul. His 5.5% mark last season ranked in just the 22nd percentile among all combo guards, per Cleaning the Glass. His stellar 87.2% career mark from the charity stripe illustrates all you need to know about why Brogdon should aim to reach the line as much as possible. Hopefully that can be the case this year, and Brogdon can benefit from Bud’s ideologies as much as his fellow Bucks.