It’s official: Malcolm Brogdon is the 2017 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. Brogdon beat out Joel Embiid and Dario Saric from Philadelphia, becoming only the second Virginia player to win the award (Ralph Sampson took the honors in 1984).
As you would expect, Malcolm’s speech was perfect. He opened by thanking his mother, then God, then giving his teammates and coach the credit for his success. Finally, he mentioned the award is for all of those players who fall to the second round or go undrafted and those that are overlooked.
The Prez, taken in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 36th overall pick, becomes the only second rounder to win the award and the lowest pick since 1988’s Mark Jackson (#18 pick). The lowest ever pick to win Rookie of the Year was Woody Sauldsberry in 1958.
Brogdon averaged 10.2 points per game - the lowest ever for a Rookie of the Year - but had the highest win share (4.1) of any rookie this season. In fact, his 4.1 win shares is higher than 11 other Rookies of the Year, including Kevin Durant (and tied with Kyrie Irving). On top of the points per game, Brogdon shot 46% from the field and 40% from three for the season, and chipped in 4.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Although Embiid was clearly the most talented “rookie”, he only played 31 games due to injury, which was too little for many voters to consider him the ROY. Saric, while solid, had comparable points per game (12.8) and naturally has more rebounds (6.3) per game as a forward. Of the three finalists, however, only Brogdon’s team made the playoffs, helped immensely by his performance on the court. Milwaukee’s head coach Jason Kidd moved Brogdon into the starting lineup when Matthew Dellavedova went down with an injury. Brogdon started 28 games of the 75 he played, averaging 26.4 minutes per game.
Some of Brogdon’s rookie season highlights include being the only rookie to record a triple double this year, hitting a game-winner on the road over Boston, and dunking on LeBron James (and Kyrie Irving and Dwayne Wade).
Brogdon’s win is well deserved, and it’s huge for the Virginia program. Already, sites like The Ringer and analysts like Seth Greenberg are referencing teams “looking for the next Malcolm Brogdon”. His performance has not only shown that there is upside for the ancient four (or five) year college players, but that Virginia’s style can translate to the big leagues.
Congratulations, Malcolm. You earned it. You are the 2017 Rookie of the Year.