Malcolm Brogdon makes perfect sense for the Pacers

The Indiana Pacers addressed one of their flaws from last season by bringing in Malcolm Brogdon as their new starting point guard.

The Indiana Pacers finally got a running-mate worthy of sharing the backcourt with Victor Oladipo in the form of Malcolm Brogdon. The 26-year-old former member of the Milwaukee Bucks isn’t a short-term solution or specialist serving as a band-aid — he is the future of the position for Indiana.

Last season we saw how the Pacers couldn’t score when it mattered, especially in the playoffs. but that won’t be an issue with Brogdon. He isn’t an efficient but safe player like Darren Collison was. He isn’t a defensive maven that might go a month shooting 28.4% like Cory Joseph did.

Numbers-wise, Brogdon averaged 15.6 points per game on a 50.5/42.6/92.8 shooting line while handing out 3.2 assists and grabbing 4.5 rebounds. Of the players that recently served in the role he will with the Pacers, no one scored more, was more accurate, or rebounded better than Brogdon.

He isn’t a “pure point guard” — he has played more shooting guard the last two seasons — but a high assist rate isn’t the only way to be successful as one.

The man is brutally effective while cranking up pressure on defenses with his style of play. On paper, he looks like the perfect guard to pair with Oladipo.

Malcolm Brogdon gets buckets

While he clearly is a ball-handler and one that seeks out his own shot, a 20.7% usage rate says he’ll be fine watching Oladipo control things from time to time. BBall Index puts him in the top third of spot-up shooters in the NBA, so when other players are doing work, he’ll be waiting for them to find him to knock down 3-pointers.  As a 42.6% 3-point shooter last season, Indiana should get excited when Malcolm lets it fly from deep. 

But what the Pacers really want from Malcolm is the way he attacks the basket. He had the 11th most attempts in the restricted area last season among guards according to NBA.com, and was the 13th most accurate.

He knows how to use his body to protect the ball when he attacks the rim, something that helps make up for his lack of athleticism. He isn’t going to beat you by out jumping or running you, but he’ll do the little things to create the space he needs to score.

While he isn’t a physically dominating player, he knows how to hunt mismatches. If you missed watching Oladipo backup and attack bigger and less agile defenders last season, then Brogdon should scratch that itch until Oladipo returns in early 2020.

He’ll fit in well with the Pacers as well thanks to his transition offense. Just like Oladipo, he picks spots to push the ball up the floor and create mismatches or simply putting the defense into retreat.

He is only average at drawing shooting fouls, but that still puts pressure on defenses to stop him from getting to the rim; though they might want to let him shoot rather than foul because unless Indiana is somehow detrimental to his free throw shooting, his 92.8% average from last season bodes well when he gets to the line.  

The aggressive style mixed with not being ball-dominant does well for Indiana in general, but especially when paired with Oladipo.

What the Pacers should worry about  

But nobody is perfect, so lets at least mention the fact Brogdon isn’t the perfect pick-and-roll ball-handler as he often is taking a shot. That lack of athleticism means he isn’t likely to beat down bigger players with power or out-run the smaller ones, but he isn’t helpless, either. There should be some concern about a drop-off in efficiency going from the Bucks to the Pacers.

His defense might not match his reputation when guarding point guards, but he doesn’t project as a liability either. If Nate McMillan can make Bojan Bogdanovic somewhat serviceable on defense, then Indiana should survive any weakness from Malcolm on that end of the floor. He’s certainly an upgrade to Collison on that end.

His health is the biggest concern,  however. Brogdon’s only played in 76% of the Bucks regular season games the three seasons, and only played 65 games last year and missed nearly half of the playoffs with a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot.  A quadricep tear the season before limited him to 48 regular season games but he did return for Milwaukee’s playoff games. Indiana is likely confident that their great training staff can help keep him on the court.

But it was the right move for the Pacers  

If nothing else, Indiana ‘signed’ the second best free agent in their history, something few expected just a few days ago. 

Indiana isn’t a free agent hot spot, regardless of global warming. so paying a little bit of a premium to make sure they didn’t have to worry about the Bucks matching was worth it for the Pacers.

They signed a player heading into his prime years, just like the rest of their core. If Brogdon stays healthy, then the Pacers have a point guard with only a few red flags in his game. 

They got one of the better guards available in free agency, and one who is brutally efficient in scoring. as his 19th ranked 57.5 eFG% can attest to. He doesn’t need the ball often and still ended up with 15.6 points a game last season. And if there’s a silver lining to Oladipo not being ready to start the season, it’s that we’ll find out what Brogdon can do carrying a heavier load.

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