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Point/Counterpoint: What To Make Of Malcolm Brogdon

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Brogdon is our president. However, as with all presidents, there will be a faction that is not a fan of their work, no matter what happens. After having a surprise (award-winning) rookie year, Brogdon saw his role grow in year two before a quad injury derailed the rest of his season. This year, Brogdon‘s shooting 43% from three – a team high – and has an eFG% of 57%. But with the good, there is the bad (or not so good) with his turnover percentage increasing to 11.3% (compared to 10.9% last season) while his win shares decreased to 1.7 (after it was 2.1 during the 2017-18 season) despite the team’s success.

Brogdon showed up for a few big games this season, with his most notable coming during the West Coast road trip against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and Denver Nuggets. He did have some clunkers, including the Memphis Grizzlies game where he was a –30, or the first Portland Trail Blazers game which he only had 4 points and CJ McCollum lit him up. Brogdon has been a starter since Mike Budenholzer took over and there’s some question if he is best suited there.


Kyle: Okay Riley, I’m torn. I like Brogdon and he is a piece of what has been a successful Bucks season. However, he’s a weak link among the starters.

Riley: Oh, come now Kyle, don't disrespect the 2016-2017 Rookie of the Year like that! Sure, he's not as strong as Eric Bledsoe, his shot selection falls short of Khris Middleton’s, and his athleticism won't make him an All-Defense candidate, but he is a rotation piece on a playoff-bound team. Not bad for a second-round pick, no?

Kyle: I think that’s the first issue, is that Rookie of the Year award. He wins it and it instantly catapults his value higher than it ever will be. Had Joel Embiid played half the year, he wins it. This isn’t to say he isn’t a talented player, but his fit in the starting lineup hurts both himself and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and when you’re not helping Giannis, you are in trouble (unless your name is Thon Maker).

Riley: Fine, I'll grant you that his ROY campaign had some flaws, though he was still a deserving candidate. Let's ignore the award and take a look at the statistical facts: 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game; shooting splits of .502/.431/.971...

Kyle: That 97% from the line is not sustainable.

Riley: You didn't even let me finish!

Kyle: Okay, carry on.

Riley: Where was I? Oh, the stats. Anyways, the point is he's putting together the best statistical season of his career, on a slightly increased minute load and with a usage rate below last season's (18.7%).

Kyle: Okay, yes, he is having his best individual season. His On/Off with Giannis isn’t great; as our friend Dean Maniatt (@AllTheBucks) noted, Giannis is 13.8 points per 100 better with Brogdon on the bench, and Giannis lineups have a 5.6 faster pace without him. This doesn’t apply to only Giannis; Brogdon has a net rating below 10 with every other starter besides Brook Lopez, per nba.com/stats.

Riley: See, now we're starting to get to the heart of the issue regarding Malcolm as I understand it: we're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. By that I mean we've come to expect Brogdon to fit in as the seamless fifth starter that I'm just not sure he's meant to be. What he brought to the table under the reign of Jason Kidd gave us all a bright spot in a land of darkness. Unfortunately, since the arrival of coach Mike Budenhozer, that weak ray of light just doesn't compare to his starting teammates.

What I'm trying to say is Brogdon is a really solid player, but the characteristics that once made him a favorite (“young high IQ player!”) are neither applicable, nor as useful.

Kyle: Each of the starters brings something. Lopez can stretch the floor and box his guy out, helping the team rebound. Bledsoe can blow by most guards and locks down the other team’s guard. Middleton brings shooting and secondary playmaking, while Giannis is Giannis. Brogdon’s ability to get to the hoop and finish has been fantastic this season; the issue is when you share the court with Giannis, your best attribute has to be shooting, or at least the willingness to shoot. Brogdon is a good catch and shoot player, but he doesn’t do that consistently. It seems when he gets the ball on the perimeter, his first instinct is to attack the hoop. Bledsoe is a worse shooter than Brogdon yet he has no hesitation shooting it. Brogdon would be better off being the sixth man and coming off the bench and having someone like Pat Connaughton start in his place.

Riley: Jeez, throwing your “President” to the wolves in lieu of a guy with the nickname “Planet”? Harsh.

Well, fine, if Malcolm is a better fit coming off the bench in the long-term – and note that I don't necessarily disagree with that take – how the heck are we supposed to establish his value in the pecking order of free-agents-to-be? He, Khris, Eric, and Brook are all up for new deals, and Brogdon is going to be a restricted free agent. What kind of deal would you be comfortable him returning on? Do you try to move him in a trade deal? If so, for what?

Kyle: First of all, when this happens, yes, I’m throwing someone to the wolves:

Riley: Psh, big deal. Malcolm can dunk too you know...

Kyle: Anyway, as we discussed on our Thanksgiving podcast, we think Brogdon is below Lopez, Middleton, and Bledsoe in terms of priority of being re-signed. Yes, his value might dip, but we have seen with guys like Lou Williams and Manu Ginobili, sometimes being the sixth man does more for your value in the league than being a starter.

In terms of what deal, I wouldn’t want to go over $10 mil/year. You could move him but I don’t know what value you would actually get for him. His salary is low (which is a plus), but that makes it difficult to get a high caliber two guard (i.e. Bradley Beal). Overall, I think it’s better to keep Brogdon and have him come off the bench, that way he can be more of a focal point on offense. If a team like Chicago or Brooklyn wants to give him a large deal, fine by me, as a two guard is easier to replace than most positions. If Brogdon is given a $7 mil/year deal, is he higher on your list to resign than Bledsoe or Lopez?

Riley: Man, $7 million is really tempting. Cost-controlled guy, sometime starter, theoretically can play the right way on offense. Add on top an ability to move that contract in a trade. I'd probably go for that.

Look, we could argue all night long about Brogdon and the Bucks, but let me see if I get you straight: You're of the mind that Malcolm is good, but probably not the kind of guy who will put this team over the top in the post-season, and so maybe not the best fit going forward either on the court or on the cap sheet, right?

Kyle: I think Brogdon is good, but him being in the starting lineup does not help Milwaukee in the long term. He is ideally a sixth man who, when he’s on, can win you a game, but when he’s struggling it hurts everyone, both offensively and defensively. If he is on a cost-controlled deal, that makes it more possible to package him in a bigger transaction. It’s tough, but sometimes you have to do it to take the next step. I feel like we can debate this all season but I’m glad he and the Bucks are successful this season, and this is just us nitpicking.


What say you, readers? Are you a “Brogdon Believer”? Or are you doing everything you can to exchange your stock of “Brogdon Bucks” as quick as can be? Take part in our poll and give us your take in the comments below!


Poll

I think Malcolm Brogdon is...

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Doing just fine as a starter - don't change a thing!
    (209 votes)
  • 54%
    Best as a sixth-man - move him to the second unit!
    (252 votes)
  • 0%
    A good towel-waver - more minutes for others!
    (4 votes)
465 votes total Vote Now