2019 NBA Free Agents: Malcolm Brogdon
When Malcolm Brogdon won the 2016-7 Rookie of the Year Award, it felt like he defaulted into it, since Joel Embiid was a much better player but was limited by injury to just 31 games. Following two subsequent seasons where he has improved every aspect of his game, Brogdon looks like a legitimate star in the Association, if unlikely to reach superstardom. He hits Restricted Free Agency at the perfect time, though, as his game trends up, and Milwaukee is cash-strapped enough that another team will be in a position to overpay to pry him away. Brogdon is going to be a rich man come July.
Regular Season Stats: 15.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 4.5 RPG, 505 FG%, .426 3P%, .928 FT%
Brogdon hits the market possessing the foremost skill of the modern NBA -- shooting -- in abundance. The 50-40-90 that he put up this season makes him an entrant into an elite club: the last member was Steph Curry in 2015-6, his unanimous MVP season, and Brogdon is only the eighth member of the 50-40-90 Club in NBA history. He is exactly what the league is looking for in its guard play right now: a tremendous shooter who can spot up, but with some creativity for himself as well. Solidly in his prime at 26, but never before the focal point of his team, Brogdon still has the veneer of untapped potential, and has an element of upside to his game. The right team may pay to find out just how much.
He’s a little fragile. Brogdon has played just 187 out of 246 possible career games - 76% - and if you look at just the last two seasons, it’s 112 of 162 - 68%. He’s also a bit of a tweener on the defensive end, as he has great size for a point guard, but not really the speed and athleticism to match with some of the physical marvels of today’s NBA; conversely, he’s a bit undersized for a shooting guard, though he has a good wingspan and very large hands.
Someone will be paying Brogdon starter money to be a starter on a team with playoff aspirations and beyond. He would look very good next to a ball-dominant point guard that would make use of his shooting prowess, while giving him the keys to the car when that player went to the bench. His age puts him in a sweet spot of being mature enough for a ‘now’ team, but also young enough to grow with an up-and-coming team.
Possible Landing Spots:
Indiana is a very compelling destination, as Brogdon would make a perfect long-term partner for Oladipo in the Pacers’ backcourt. Both are combo guards, so either can run the offense while playing off the other, and be the engine for the team when the other goes to the bench. After playing four years at the University of Virginia, and starting his career in Milwaukee, doesn’t appear to be a player that needs a big market, but might flourish more in basketball-crazy Indiana.
Philadelphia could easily decide that they would like to go from J.J. Redick to Brogdon, who would provide a lot of the same shooting, but with more creativity, and with eight fewer years on the odometer. He’s a natural fit next to Ben Simmons, who would benefit from the spacing that Brogdon would provide while papering over a lot of his defensive shortcomings. Some things would have to go wrong in Philly’s re-signing efforts for Brogdon to end up there, but he might represent a surprisingly desirable back-up plan.
If the New York Knicks strike out in their big name plans, they could do far worse than getting Brogdon to take their money. A consummate, mature pro, Brogdon would be a fine role model for what would then be a young, rising team centered on Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and RJ Barrett. Having Brogdon to steady that ship, and fit seamlessly with that group would be a surprisingly thoughtful and effective course forward for a oft-rudderless Knicks franchise.
If the Orlando Magic are smart enough to let Nikola Vucevic walk, they’d do well to spend that money on Brogdon. While the Magic are basking in their first trip to the playoffs in seven years, they must realize that their center of the future is Mo Bamba, and they’d be much better suited moving forward with a Fultz/Brogdon backcourt, than any other currently rostered alternative.
Restricted Free Agency often scares away suitors, as teams don’t want to tie up their cap space on a player who will ultimately be kept by his team, but this time it should work in Brogdon’s favor for a few reasons. First, the Bucks just spent a good chunk of change on a player who nominally plays the same position as Brogdon - Eric Bledsoe. Second, the Bucks have an impending free agent in Khris Middleton who is undoubtedly a higher priority for them. Third, more money has been reserved for the available free agents than there are top-tier players to take them -- and Kevin Durant’s injury in Game 5 of the Finals has only exacerbated that further.
4 years and $60 million dollars should pry him away, though I could see him getting even more.