The Case for Milwaukee to Start Malcolm Brogdon
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Malcolm Brogdon’s season was humming along through the first 64 games of the regular season. The third-year combo wing out of Virginia was averaging a career-high in points and rebounds, and was in the process of recording the 14th 50/40/90 season in NBA history (his splits were 50.5/42.6/92.8). Brogdon had started all 64 games the Bucks had played so far, and during a game against the Miami Heat in March, came up lame halfway through the first quarter. The team initially called it a “left heel injury” but it was quickly found out to be a plantar fascia tear. That held Brogdon out of the final 18 regular season games and the first eight games of Milwaukee’s Playoff run.
He returned in Game 5 of their second round series with Boston and scored 10 points on 4/8 shooting. He also added in four assists, three rebounds, one block, and went 1/3 from three to once again showcase the wide variety of positive impacts he has for this Bucks team.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, Brogdon looks like he’s back to his spry regular season form. In Game 1, he had 15 points on 5/9 shooting including 3/6 from three. He also added in three rebounds and three assists and led all Bucks with a plus-18 in 26 minutes of action. In Game 2, he had another solid game off the bench, finishing with 14 points on 5/10 shooting including 3/6 on threes, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, and finished plus-15 in 25 minutes.
Game 3 was Brogdon’s best game of the Playoffs thus far. Despite the Bucks' loss in double-overtime, he finished plus-3 in a Playoff-high 36 minutes of action. He had 20 points on 8/17 shooting including 3/8 from three, five rebounds, one assist, and two steals. After that game, I believe Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has to consider putting him back in the starting lineup for either Mirotic or Bledsoe, who are both having a very subpar Conference Finals. Then Game 4 rolled around and Brogdon finished with 4 points on 2/11 shooting including 0/3 from three.
Even with that very dreadful performance, I think coach Bud should consider starting him in Game 5. I understand having Nikola Mirotic in the starting lineup gives Giannis Antetokounmpo a bit more floor spacing and having Brogdon come in off the bench gives them another well-rested creator, but the 2017 Rookie of the Year has shown that he has been reliable at hitting threes in the ECF and is a much more dynamic offensive threat and a better perimeter defender than Mirotic.
Milwaukee’s starting five with Brogdon in place of Mirotic has a net rating of +48.5 in this series against Toronto. It is a small sample size, as that lineup has only played 10 minutes together in this series. They shockingly have a porous offensive rating of only 91.3, but have a defensive rating of 45.8. Putting numbers into perspective, the Bucks led the NBA this season with a defensive rating of 104.9. That is incredible. I doubt that the Bucks' coaching staff will change up the starting five unless they make the NBA Finals, but it is definitely something they should be thinking about, especially if they drop Game 5 and go down 3-2 to the Raptors.