Looking at teams in the NBA that have reached the summit of the sport by winning a championship, a common theme is interpreted: consistency. That word has an array of different meanings, all of which are vital and crucial toward maintaining that aggressive pedigree.
Consistency is necessary on the court. It is needed in play. Chemistry within the players has to be featured in high levels in the locker room and off the floor in a consistent manner. Development has to always be an ingredient. Strung together with all of these examples of consistency is another one that stems from the general manager’s position – drafting. That is exactly what is being achieved with Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon.
“I think it’s all about experience,” said Brogdon. “I think it’s once you get on the floor, it’s having the confidence to make shots and execute the right way. I have a lot of confidence from Coach [Jason] Kidd. He believes in me and so do my teammates.”
Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond has fluctuated between being on the good and bad sides of fans and their takes on his process of constructing rosters. He has had both bright and dark times. He has had his fair share of picks that have resulted to be busts, but it is rare to see a general manager that does not have a few blemishes on his resume. His selection of Giannis Antetokounmpo with the No. 15 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is regarded as one of the greatest steals in recent memory and is only gaining in terms of excellence as Antetokounmpo rises to stardom this season. It appears as if Hammond may have added another accolade to his name, this time with second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon, whom the Bucks selected No. 36 overall this past June.
A rookie out of Virginia, Brogdon was not on the radar of many teams, despite having a fantastic four years out of the ACC conference. His senior campaign began with him being pegged as a candidate on the 35-man watchlist for the Naismith Trophy, an award that is awarded to the best player in the nation. He ended up averaging 18.4 points per game, coupled with 2.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. That stat line was enough for him to corral in numerous prestigious awards, including ACC Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and first-team All-American.
However, despite the hardware he brought home, Brogdon fell to the second round in the draft. In the day and age in which teams seem to be more attracted to young players that have taken the one-and-done process, Milwaukee deemed Brogdon as a player that would fit on their young roster. It seems that the mantra is that if a player of that caliber pans out, a team will receive more years of him on their roster. However, that has multiple drawbacks, one being the lack of playing experience at a high level. That asset is one that Brogdon achieved in his four years at the University of Virginia. His knowledge of the game is allowing him to be enlisted in a role that the traditional rookie might not be granted, as he is currently playing 20.8 minutes per game over his last ten outings. Brogdon points at the faith that the Bucks have in him in being a large reason for his success.The praise from his teammates has been well deserved so far this season, as Brogdon is currently averaging stats that do not appear to be being generated from a first-year player. Through Nov. 21, he is averaging a slash of 6.9/2.6/2.7, a line that has put him in the top tier of rookies so far this year. Arguably his best game came against Memphis, a meeting in which he saw playing time in crucial moments down the stretch. When the bell tolled, Brogdon answered and he did against the Grizzlies, scoring 12 points and making his presence on the court known. When asked about the rookie’s performance in that game, Giannis Antetokounmpo did not hold back with his admiration.
“For me, Malcolm [Brogdon] is not a rookie,” said Antetokounmpo. “He’s a 10-year veteran in this league. He’s so freaking mature, it’s unbelievable. He comes in and gives us that extra push that we need. The energy, he scores the ball, he defends the ball, passes the ball and finds open people. We need that on this team.”
Point guard Matthew Dellavedova also echoed Antetokounmpo’s comments by mentioning how it appears as if Brogdon has lifted the rookie tag off himself.
“He’s not really a rookie,” said Dellavedova. “He’s very mature. He knows how to play the game; he works hard everyday.”
With Khris Middleton out for the foreseeable future as he recovers from a hamstring injury, the Bucks will continue to rely on the contributions from Brogdon. So far, his play and basketball I.Q. for a first-year player have been off the charts. Who knows, if his stellar play continues, he might be adding to the hardware he has already earned in his young career with a Rookie of the Year award.