The Bucks took a calculated risk last June drafting Thon Maker number 10 overall. One can speculate the Bucks looked at him like they looked at Giannis back in 2013: A sea of potential with no ceiling in sight. Not everyone was happy with the pick and with the lack of playing time it’s hard to tell exactly how Maker will play out. But the Bucks cast a safety net with their second round pick. A reliable guard from the University of Virginia (UVA) with the ability to come in and help the organization from the get-go. A safety net if you will in case Maker is a bust (knock on wood).
Enter Malcolm Brogdon, the 36th overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft. A whole different animal compared to Maker. If you say Maker represents the future and untapped potential, then you would say Brogdon represents maturity and the importance of winning now. Not as exciting of a pick as Maker, but a more low-risk pick. A pick with no heartbreak, and no wondering what could have been.
Brogdon signed up for the draft at 24 years old after after his senior year at UVA (compare that to the current ages of Giannis, 21, and Jabari, 22). Playing all four years of college ball has become somewhat of a mirage in this over-sensationalized “one and done” world we have grown accustom to; but Brogdon is the opposite of a “one and done,” and was NBA ready when he entered the draft. The Bucks needed someone who could come in and make an impact off the bench right away while they develop Maker. Brogdon fit the script perfectly.
The downside of drafting an NBA ready player is they are close to their ceiling. It’s sort of a “what you see is what you get,” situation. You’re trading unknown potential for immediate contribution. That doesn’t mean Brogdon’s game won’t improve, just don’t expect jaw-dropping stats in the future.
His last year at UVA Brogdon averaged 18 points, 0.9 steals, 4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game over the span of his senior year. He became the first player in ACC history to be named both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. A feat that will send his jersey to the rafters on Feb. 20, 2017 at the John Paul Jones Arena.
Whats arguably more impressive than his accolades on the court is the work he did in the classroom. Brogdon graduated from UVA with a 4.0 GPA which placed him on the ACC academic honor roll. He also earned the UVA Alumni Association Ernest H. Ern Distinguished Student award. Both respectable achievements in the academic world.
Brogdon has always placed emphasis on academics. In a recent interview with Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel, he commented on his priorities growing up saying “I didn’t party, I didn’t go out.” He also notes that if he didn’t maintain a B average throughout High School he couldn’t practice or go to the gym. This system worked so well that he got accepted into Harvard but turned it down to play basketball at UVA.
Possibly more important, is his tenacious work in the classroom donned him the nickname “The President,” by his college team mates. A nickname that has carried over to the NBA, but for different reasons.
In Milwaukee his teammates call him “The President,” because of his poise and maturity on the court. Coach Kidd said it best in a recent post game interview “There’s no panic in his game, he’s not afraid of the moment,” a very rare quality to see in a rookie. Brogdon’s calm “presidential” vibe on the court is much needed to offset the sometimes overbearing excitement of Giannis and Jabari.
It’s only week seven of the 2016-17 NBA season so it’s hard to tell what Brogdon’s long term contribution will be, but so far he has fulfilled expectations and beyond. Coming off the bench he is averaging 21.3 minutes per game, with a player efficiency rating of 8.2 which is fourth overall compared to other rookies. Among rookies he also ranks first in three-point % and assist to turnover ratio, fourth in assists, and seventh in scoring and shooting. Those numbers put hit in the number three spot according to the latest Rookie Power Rankings put out by NBA.com.
Overall, the Bucks get an A+ for drafting Brogdon, he is a walking oxymoron: A rookie who is ready to come in and lead this team. Ranking in the top 3 rookies is not something to write off either. While he might never be an all star but he will be able to consistently put up decent numbers in all areas of the box score. His “3 and D,” style of play seems to be exactly what the Bucks needed. Most of all though, Brogdon appears to have those intangible leadership qualities that can make him an asset to this roster for years to come.