Getting Too Excited About Malcolm Brogdon’s Start

Well, now seems like a good time to take stock in this Bucks team. They just had a 3-game winning streak where they looked unstoppable snapped in an extremely disappointing loss to the seemingly-hapless Mavs, and now have a few days of rest. They’re 4-3, currently 6th in the East (I know, this doesn’t matter much after just 7 games) and look like a good bet to make the playoffs by the end of the season. Most of the talk around the league regarding the Bucks has (justifiably) focused on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has given Bucks fans every reason to be excited for the present and the future.

I want to talk today, however, about Malcolm Brogdon. While the rookie did not score 55 points last night like Brandon Jennings did in his 7th career game, Brogdon has been nothing but impressive for this Milwaukee squad. He is currently tied for 5th on the team with 0.3 win shares, and is on track for one of the best rookie seasons the Bucks have seen:

Rank Player Season Win Shares Minutes Per Game
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1969-1970 13.8 43
2 Marques Johnson 1977-1978 10.6 35
3 Bob Dandridge 1969-1970 6.0 30
4 Andrew Bogut 2005-2006 5.5 29
5 Ray Allen 1996-1997 4.9 31
6 Sidney Moncrief 1979-1980 4.9 20
7 Vin Baker 1993-1994 4.4 31
8 Brandon Jennings 2009-2010 4.2 33
9 Luc Mbah A Moute 2008-2009 4.0 26
10 Malcolm Brogdon (projected) 2016-2017 3.5 21

First, let’s ignore the fact that numbers 1 and 3 on this list came from the same season, which is frankly insane. If Brogdon continues playing the way he has, he would have the 10th-best rookie season by win shares a Buck has ever had. Then consider the fact that he would have the second-lowest minutes per game of any rookie on this list and his projected season becomes even more impressive. Not bad for a second-round pick.

So how has he done this? Well, for one, Brogdon has been very consistent so far this season. Take away his worst game of the season (against the Nets, in which he also recorded his lowest number of minutes) and he’s only had a negative plus/minus rating once. He’s shot 38% or better and scored over 5 points in 4 of 7 games, and he seems to reduce his shooting output when his shots just aren’t falling (which is a great sign of maturity from a rookie). He’s had 4 or more assists in 4 of 7 games, recorded a steal in 5 of 7 games and recorded multiple steals in 3. He’s had 3 games without a single turnover, and has only committed multiple turnovers twice. He’s also only committed multiple fouls in a game twice.

All of the above paints a portrait of a smart, patient player who knows what he needs to do for his team to win. Jason Kidd seems to think so too, as his minutes per game have generally gone up as the season has gone on, from 17 minutes per game in the first three contests to 24 over the last four. As Brogdon gains more NBA experience as the season goes on, we can expect him to only get better, and he may even end up with a higher finish than the 10th-best Bucks rookie campaign ever.

Of course, this is all speculative, but with what we’ve seen from Brogdon so far in this young season, it’s hard not to get excited. By the way, Brogdon is currently leading all rookies with 0.3 win shares (well, tied with Jakob Poeltl, Domantas Sabonis and Pascal Siakam), so I’ll take that to mean that it’s fair to start thinking rookie of the year. Hey, I’m just looking at the numbers.

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