How Will the Bucks Replace Malcolm Brogdon?
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It’s been a great season so far for the Milwaukee Bucks, one that has been void of any drama, many challenges, or major injuries. However, last Saturday, the Bucks’ luck changed as they learned Malcolm Brogdon will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a partially torn plantar fascia.
It marks the second year in a row Brogdon will miss time with injury, as he missed a couple months down the stretch of last season with a torn quadricep. While it may not be quite the same as if Giannis or Khris Middleton missed time, the Brogdon injury will have a big impact on the team.
Brogdon started in each of the Bucks first 64 games this year, posting career numbers. He was averaging almost 16 points a game and still had a coveted 50-40-90 shooting season going. He is a key defender, a clutch shooter, and does a lot of little things on the court that’d you expect from a starting guard on a 50 win team.
Looking at the reported injury timetable, it seems the earliest Brogdon could be back would be during a potential Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, a point where most would expect the Bucks to get to. Still, even if he does return at that point, it is likely Brogdon’s minutes are restricted after the long layoff and one could only assume he will be a bit rusty.
Ultimately, it’s hard to expect that the same Malcolm Brogdon we have seen this season will be back in full force at any point this year. There is little doubt this will have a negative impact on the Bucks. But the hallmark of a championship caliber team is depth. It will be the next man up mentality for the Bucks, and they have several guards who can effectively help fill the void left by the injury.
Although it looks like coach Mike Budenholzer may try to play bigger after he started Nikola Mirotic (who is now injured as well) in the Bucks first game sans Brogdon, there are a lot of guards on this roster who can help contribute. One important guy is George Hill, who returned from a near month long injury absence last week.
Although nominally the backup point guard, Hill is more than capable of playing at the same time as Eric Bledsoe in the two guard role. It would be nice to see his three-point percentage step up from the 32% it’s at now, but Hill is a veteran guy who usually makes the right play and has experience that will be important on and off the court for this team down the stretch.
The biggest minutes beneficiary, at least for the time being could be Pat Connaughton. The fourth-year guard started off the season strong coming off the Bucks bench, but lost playing time after the acquisition of Hill. It would be nice to see Connaughton shoot the ball a bit better as well, but he is an underrated athlete who certainly can bring a spark to this team when they need it.
Donte DiVincenzo and Sterling Brown are a couple names to watch as well. DiVincenzo has struggled to stay on the floor in his rookie season, missing about two months from January to March. Despite some limited action in early March, his heel injury continues to plague him. However, anyone who watched the rookie play at Villanova last year knows this guy can catch fire from deep when he’s right, something the Bucks hope will happen sooner rather than later.
Brown has caught the injury bug as well on this squad, as he’s been out since February 23rd. Prior to that however, he was emerging a bit off the bench, averaging over 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per 100 possessions. The second year SMU product is also a capable defender, and while he shoots a lot of threes he is also a better attacker of the basket than some of the names mentioned above. Brown may bring the closest skill set to Brogdon’s and he is already filling in for him off the court. Now, he just needs to get healthy enough to prove it.
Earlier in the week, the Bucks also acquired guard Tim Frazier, who spent the majority of the season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Frazier’s numbers don’t jump off the page at anyone, but he is a solid guard who can come in and contribute immediately. Many may forget that Frazier spent the preseason with the Bucks, so he knows Coach Bud’s system and can help give the team quality minutes for the time being in this injured backcourt.
It is clear that one player is not going to replace Brogdon. The former rookie of the year was playing at a near all-star caliber level for the majority of the season. It will take solid minutes from each of the guys mentioned above to replace Brogdon, and even bigger numbers from the Bucks’ stars to keep this team in championship competition. If Giannis’ game against the 76ers last weekend was any indication, he is ready for that responsibility.
Health is always one of the biggest keys to winning. Brogdon’s injury will certainly hurt the Bucks, but they have the players to mask the loss. Jon Horst has assembled a solid roster that has depth at every spot. Now it will be time for that roster to prove just how well he has done.
Statistics Courtesy of Basketball Reference