BOSTON – As each day of training camp passes, Celtics newcomer Malcolm Brogdon finds himself feeling more and more settled in.
The past two-plus weeks of the preseason have been a vital period of time for the veteran guard as he adjusts to a new system, new teammates, and new surroundings.
“I'm definitely getting more comfortable,” he said Wednesday afternoon following Boston’s fourth straight day of practice. “It's a day-by-day thing and I'm going to get more comfortable as the season progresses.
One of the biggest changes for Brogdon is adjusting to an entirely new role. In his previous role with the Indiana Pacers, he had been both the team’s leading scorer and leading facilitator. Now, he’ll transition from being the first-unit top dog to a second-unit top dog for a loaded Celtics team.
“It's a new adjustment, of course, but, for me, I embrace it,” said Brogdon, who averaged 18.9 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game in three seasons with the Pacers. “I took on a lot of the load in Indiana, and I enjoyed it. But this is a new role, a new team, a new level of team, to be honest, that's competing for a championship. So we're gonna have more ball-handlers, more guys that have more skills and more strengths. And I enjoy playing with them; they make the game easier for me.”
Brogdon has been making the game easier for his teammates, as well. He led the team in assists in Games 1 and 2 of the preseason, dishing out nine assists in both contests before earning a rest day for Game 3.
He's dished out 18 dimes in 47.5 minutes of action and his 9.0 assists per game are second among all NBA players who have played at least two games, trailing only Chris Paul’s 10.0 APG.
It’s not easy forming connections like that right off the bat with a new team, especially while coming off the bench in a new role. However, Brogdon has sure made it look that way.
“Just continuing to make the right play, keep the game simple,” he said of his passing. “I think, a lot of the time, when you make a transition to a new team, which I've done before, you tend to overthink it – you overthink the game. And, for me, just keep the game simple and it'll evolve from there.”
One area in which Brogdon is hoping to evolve after his first two appearances is shooting efficiency. He’s made just 5-of-15 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range so far. However, as one of nine players in NBA history to produce a 50/40/90 season, which he did in 2018-19 with the Bucks, he knows that he’s capable of doing much better.
After all, it’s only been two games – two exhibition games at that – so it’s all just part of the adjustment process.
“It can get better, it can always get better,” Brogdon said of his shooting. “I feel like, right now, I haven’t made a lot or some of my open shots that I usually make. But that's all due to rhythm, new team. So those are the ones you're gonna see me knock down, as well as continuing to get guys open and play my game.”
It’s also reassuring to know that Brogdon has been through this transition before – in 2019 when he went from Milwaukee to Indiana. It didn’t take him long to adapt then either, as he began the regular season with four straight double-doubles and averages of 22.0 points and 11.3 assists per game.
Although he may not put up such magnitudinous numbers on a consistent basis in his new role with the C’s, he’ll still be a key contributor to their offensive attack.
He also says that he’ll continue to improve with each passing game and practice, just as he’s been doing over the past few weeks. “You'll see me, day to day, game by game, in just a little bit better rhythm every day.”