Brogdon at $20 million is a better keeper than Middleton for the max
By Tyler Job
Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon might not be the tallest, fastest and most eye-popping player in the NBA, but he is undoubtedly one of the most valuable core pieces the Bucks need to retain one free agency officially begins June 30.
The 26-year-old guard is also reportedly seeking to sign an offer sheet for as much as $20 million per year. That is worth more than what teammate Eric Bledsoe is getting paid in his contract extension he signed in March.
Now, $20 million per year might seem a little too much for a player with only three years of NBA experience and injury history, but Brogdon only makes the Bucks better when he is on the floor.
If you were to ask me who I would take between Brogdon for $20 million per year or Khris Middleton for a $38 million per year max, I would hands-down take Brogdon. Why is that? Let’s break it down.
1) Brogdon’s request is more reasonable than Middleton’s.
I am going to be straightforward with this, but Middleton is not worthy of a max contract with any team, including the Bucks. Middleton is undoubtedly the best fit with Milwaukee, but keep in mind he is also asking for the same amount as Klay Thompson, and it does not take a genius to figure out that Thompson is a better overall player than Middleton.
For his career, Thompson has averaged 19.5 points per game. Middleton has averaged 15.7, an almost four-point differential between the two. The field goal percentage is close, with Thompson getting the edge at 45.9 percent to Middleton’s 45.1 percent. But here is the big difference: Thompson is a career 42 percent 3-point shooter, whereas Khris is currently at about 39 percent. Middleton’s career shooting from downtown is still great, but Klay’s truly separates him from the rest.
Middleton’s game is very similar to Thompson’s. Both can hit 3-pointers from anywhere, but are great at the pull-up, and both are great spot-up shooters. But Klay is much better than Khris at the rim.
Middleton and Thompson are both great lock-down defenders as well, but there’s a reason Klay is a 5x All-Star and Khris has only been an All-Star once. Popularity is a factor as well, but Thompson overall is better than Middleton.
As for Brogdon’s case, he is not worth the $20 million per year he is seeking, either. But he understands he is not the number two player on the Bucks. He is not a guy who will pop-off for 25 points regularly, but he sticks in his role and gets it done more often than not. Due to his consistency and top-notch defense, he is a crucial piece to Milwaukee’s core.
2) Brogdon is a 50-40-90 guy.
Brogdon in the 2018-19 season accomplished a feat only seven other players in NBA history have done: hitting at least 50 percent of his overall shot attempts, splashing at least 40 percent of his 3-pointers, and knocking down at least 90 percent of his free throws. Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry are the only others and all are or were great players.
The President attempted 11.7 shots per game last season, but took advantage by making 5.9 of them. He does not need to take much more because Giannis and Middleton take the vast majority (about 32 attempts per game between the two) and are, in theory, Milwaukee’s two best players.
Brogdon was also only one of two players on the Bucks last season to average better than 50 percent scoring next to Giannis, and was only one of two players to average better than 40 percent shooting from behind the arc, the other being Tim Frazier. However, Frazier is a reserve point guard who did not get much playing time, so his and Brogdon’s 3-point shooting is not entirely comparable.
The 26-year-old was the only Bucks player to knock down more than 90 percent of his free throws from the beginning to the end of the regular season. Matthew Dellavedova hit all of his free-throw attempts, but he was traded to the Cavaliers in December.
There aren’t many guys out there who can do what Brogdon did last year, and that is at least worth close to $10 million itself.
3) Brogdon is incredibly consistent.
I have already mentioned that The President does not take a ton of shot attempts, but when he does, he makes more than half of them and you cannot ask for more than that from any NBA player.
Not only is he consistent scoring wise, but he is consistent everywhere on the floor. We already know he can shoot really well, but also has a decent burst of speed that allows him to drive to the rim and finish. He by far is not the quickest to do that, but his size and strength gives him an advantage to fend off defenders trying to swat the ball away.
Brogdon’s top-tier defense is also a luxury to the Bucks. He averaged a 108 defensive rating during the regular season, which was the best of Milwaukee’s usual starting lineup. In the playoffs, his defensive rating dropped slightly to a 105, but that was still second-best out of the starters and just one tick behind Middleton. Don’t forget The President’s first game in the playoffs was Game 5 of the second round, whereas Middleton played the entire playoff run.
Brogdon’s real plus-minus [total offensive and total defensive plus-minus added together] during the season was 2.02, good enough for 14th among all point guards in the NBA. Only Bledsoe and George Hill averaged better real plus-minuses on the Bucks.
With free agency set to open very soon, deciding to retain Brogdon or not will be absolutely critical to the Bucks’ future success.
It is going to be an adventure to see whether or not Milwaukee is willing to keep the 26-year-old for $20 million a year long-term. If Brogdon signs an offer sheet for that amount elsewhere, the Bucks just might be forced to match it because of what he brings to the table. Losing him is not going to do the Bucks any favors, so they might as well try to retain him at all costs.
And compared to what Middleton is asking for, Brogdon is well worth his requested amount far more than Middleton for the $38 million per year max.
I would pay Brogdon less than $20 million per year if I was not forced to, but if the Bucks are in a pressured situation to match a high offer sheet, it will pay off for the team in the long-run.
It is not that the Bucks want Brogdon. They need him.