The Milwaukee Bucks culminated a somewhat tumultuous regular season last Wednesday. The end result was the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference due to a 44-38 record. Starting Sunday, the Bucks will start their first round series against the Boston Celtics in what should be a very competitive series. However, while most people will be focusing on star forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, guard Malcolm Brogdon is Milwaukee’s secret weapon.
In his rookie season last year, Brogdon exploded onto the NBA scene. In 75 regular season games, Brogdon averaged 10.2 points per game along with 4.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds. For his efforts, Brogdon was unanimously selected to the 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team. As a second round selection out of Virginia, most people did not expect Brogdon to make his imprint on the NBA so quickly. However, Brogdon proved throughout the regular season that he has the capability to be a solid player in the NBA for years to come and he further showcased his skills in the playoffs last season.
Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Toronto Raptors in six games. During that series, Brogdon played extremely well and was a huge factor in Milwaukee’s upset road victory in game one. In that game, Brogdon scored 16 points and had six rebounds while shooting over 46% from the floor and over 57% from three point range. In the entire series, Brogdon averaged 9.0 points per game along with 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Due to his stellar postseason play, Bucks fans expected Brogdon to have a huge impact in the 2017-2018 season. However, Brogdon only played in 48 games this season due to a knee injury. In limited action this season, Brogdon averaged 13.0 points per game along with 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Luckily for the Bucks, Brogdon has returned just in time for the playoffs where he will most likely contribute heavy minutes off the bench against the Celtics.
With point guards Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart out for the first round, the Celtics’ point guard depth is relatively weak. The Celtics have turned to point guard Terry Rozier to be the new starting point guard as Shane Larkin mans the point off the bench. Larkin who is only 5’11, will most likely be tasked with guarding the much taller Malcolm Brogdon (6’5). This height mismatch could be seriously exploited as the Bucks might look for Brogdon more frequently on offense.
Even if Brogdon does not dominate on offense, he is still a key addition to Milwaukee’s bench. Brogdon’s size makes him an extremely versatile defender who can guard a variety of positions. Milwaukee should be able to switch more screens against the Celtics as a result as one can expect a stronger defensive effort by the Bucks with Brogdon on the court.
Although Antetokounmpo and Parker will still need to carry most of the offensive load, Brogdon is an extremely important player on the team’s roster and nobody should be surprised if he makes some key contributions in this upcoming first round playoff series.