- Cody Kluge
How Will the Bucks Replace Malcolm Brogdon?
The offseason for the Milwaukee Bucks has gone as planned thus far. Perhaps the only downside of free agency for the team has been the loss of Malcolm Brogdon, who was dealt away in a sign and trade with the Indiana Pacers. Brogdon received a four-year, $85 million contract, while the Bucks received a couple of draft picks from their Central Division foe.
There is little doubt the Bucks will miss Brogdon. He was an excellent player in his three-year stint with the team on the court, providing solid hustle, defense, and scoring, highlighted by an incredible 50/40/90 shooting season this past year. Off the court he was involved with the community and is a genuine guy who uses his platform to help make a difference in the world.
Indiana will certainly enjoy what he brings on and off the court. But for the Bucks, the question becomes how do they replace him? There may not be one player who can do that, but with what they have in house, and with some of the moves GM Jon Horst has made in free agency, the team is looking more and more like they will be able to mask the loss of Brogdon.
The Bucks already had some candidates on the roster to replace Brogdon, and we saw them step up last season when The President went down with a plantar fascia injury late in the year. Pat Connaughton is the first name that comes to mind. A completely unnoticed signing last offseason, Connaughton won the team over right away with his hustle and underrated athleticism. He is a good shooter and an ideal fit in Coach Bud’s system. He isn’t likely to start, and he probably won’t end up playing more minutes than he did last season, but he is definitely a piece the Bucks know they can rely on to contribute at the two-guard position.
Another in house candidate is Sterling Brown. Brown will be in just his third year in the upcoming season, but he has shown flashes when he has gotten playing time in his first two years in the league. He is a capable three point shooter and showed the ability to get his own shot in a game late in the year against Atlanta.
With the team bringing in more players at his position, Brown will be fighting for playing time, but he will be given opportunity with continued development.
Donte DiVincenzo is a name Bucks fans are probably not as excited about as they were at this time last summer, but he is still a name to watch as well. Injuries marred his rookie season, but sometimes sitting and watching the game teaches players best. Another year working with Coach Bud’s staff can only help, and we will see if they can get him back to the offensive form we saw at Villanova.
Shortly after the sign and trade of Brogdon, the team made sure they brought back George Hill, signing him to a three-year, $29 million contract. Hill had an excellent playoff run for the team last season and is another guy who fits well in the current system. While he is nominally the backup point guard, Hill is definitely capable of playing at the two guard and stepping in Brogdon’s shoes with good shooting and quick attacks of the basket.
While the guys they have on the current roster might have been able to replace Brogdon, Horst has made sure they will be fully covered with a couple additional free agent signings. First and foremost was the signing of Wesley Matthews. A Wisconsin native and Marquette University alum, Matthews is coming home to play in the same city in which he played his college ball.
While he has not quite lit the stat sheet up the past few years as he did at times in Portland and Dallas, Matthews is still a serviceable player who looks to be an ideal fit in the Bucks “let if fly” system. Matthews loves to shoot the three, and is a 38% career shooter from beyond the arc. It is no secret he is a streaky shooter who can get hot quick.
He will give the Bucks another shooter to help space the floor for Giannis, and as long as he can provide some good court vision and solid defense on the other end of the court, he will fill in for Brogdon nicely.
Horst was not done there however, as he helped the Bucks become winners of the Kyle Korver sweepstakes just a few days ago. Korver is also not the same player he was in years past, but signing him is huge for this team. While the other guys mentioned above are good fits for this Bucks squad, Korver is a great fit. He already knows the system well as he played for Budenholzer in Atlanta. He had a career year under him in 2014-15, shooting almost 50% from beyond the arc in his only all-star season.
A 16 year veteran, Korver is one of the best three point shooters to ever play in the league, shooting 43% from deep over his career. Just like with Matthews, it’s exactly what the Bucks need out on the court with Giannis. Equally as important is the experience Korver will bring to a squad who fell just short of a Finals birth last season.
He has been in numerous big playoff games over the second half of his career, none bigger than some of the Finals games he played in on LeBron’s Cavs teams just a couple years back. The sharpshooter is still searching for his first title however, and the experience he has combined with his hunger for a championship is exactly what the team needs.
Brogdon was a fan favorite in Milwaukee who was part of a core that grew up together from a .500 team to a 60-win team just two games short of a Finals berth. That alone makes it tough to see him go for not only fans but his teammates as well. He will be missed in Milwaukee on and off the court, but the Bucks have done a fine job in attempting to replace him. Signing Matthews and Korver combined with the guards they have coming back from last season gives the Bucks a very formidable backcourt. One guy will not replace The President, but the Bucks have put a group of guys together that combined, just might be better.
Statistics Courtesy of Basketball Reference