With Malcolm Brogdon going early in the second round of last Thursday’s NBA draft to the Milwaukee Bucks, Virginia fans have wondered how good of a fit he would be in that system under head coach Jason Kidd.
Thanks to Frank Madden at Brew Hoop, SB Nation’s Bucks affiliate, we have some insight as to what Malcolm will look like in the Association. Check their site later today for my answers as to what Bucks fans are looking for from one of the all-time Virginia greats.
Streaking The Lawn: What have the Bucks been like the last couple years? In other words, what kind of organization is Malcolm stepping into?
Brew Hoop: The franchise has certainly had its up and downs on the court over the past few years, though overall there's still lots of room for big picture optimism. The trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton is the most talented young group the Bucks have had in decades, and drafting Brogdon and Thon Maker has reiterated the organization's emphasis on building around young players with high character.
Off the court, the arrival of new ownership was critical to getting a new arena deal done and generally elevating the organization out of its mom-and-pop doldrums. A 26-win improvement in Jason Kidd's first season necessarily accelerated expectations heading into last season, but unfortunately that's where the honeymoon ended. The team's roster moves all backfired and their defensive mojo vanished, though the emergence of Antetokounmpo and company left Bucks fans with some major silver linings in an otherwise disappointing 33-win season. That development helped Kidd cinch a new three-year extension this month, and it appears the organization believes that stability on the sidelines should eventually translate into major improvement over the next few seasons. Hopefully they're right.
STL: What kind of holes is he filling for Milwaukee? Does he take care of one or more of the needs you had going into the draft?
BH: While Khris, Jabari and Giannis have the starting two, three and four spots locked up, the team remains in desperate need of depth everywhere. Shooting and defense -- both on the wing and in the paint -- were major issues last year, so on paper Milwaukee is the perfect landing spot for a guy like Brogdon. The backcourt minutes look wide open at this point, and the decision to run the offense through Giannis means anyone who can defend point guards and hit jump shots has a chance at slotting in next to Middleton in the backcourt. As for who that might be? Well, we'll see. At the point, Greivis Vasquez won't be back, Jerryd Bayless is a free agent, Michael Carter-Williams is on the trade block, and Tyler Ennis remains fairly unproven. At shooting guard, O.J. Mayo won't return and 19-year-old Rashad Vaughn is coming off one of the worst statistical seasons in NBA history. And while it's all but certain that the Bucks will add guard depth during free agency, I wouldn't expect anything too splashy (Matthew Dellavedova is the biggest "name" guard who has been rumored, which probably says a lot). All of that means Brogdon has a chance at real minutes very early in his career.
STL: What are you looking for him to bring to the team in his first months, and ultimately, his rookie year?
BH: Very simple: defense and shooting. The Bucks' big three provides a good combination of shot-creation, length and athleticism, but they still need guys who can bring energy and communication to the defensive end and/or shooting and good decision-making to the offensive end. It's never easy for a rookie to come in and do those things at an NBA level right away -- especially second rounders -- but Brogdon's maturity, defensive rep and shooting skill seem tailor-made to steal minutes early. As crazy as it sounds, the Bucks have seven guys on the roster who are younger than Brogdon, so Jason Kidd was only half-kidding when he referred to Brogdon bringing veteran leadership next year.
STL: With a team as young as the Bucks, where do you see him fitting in the long-term plans of the franchise?
BH: It's difficult to see any wing carving out a starting spot with Giannis, Khris and Jabari around, but beyond those guys the depth chart is wide open for now. If Malcolm can defend and hit open jumpers he'll have a chance to get on the floor this year, and longer term it's the same story. The hard part will be establishing himself and being flat-out good enough to stick -- not many second rounders do, and the Bucks haven't had one become a real contributor since Luc Mbah a Moute way back in 2008.
Thanks again to Frank and the rest of the Brew Hoop team for their great coverage of Malcolm’s entry into the NBA.