Ever since the Pacers acquired guard Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019, the former University of Virginia star has done everything he can to become a reliable leader for the Blue & Gold. Shortly after the sign-and-trade deal, Brogdon commented he appreciated the way the Pacers valued him. The now five-year NBA veteran wishes to return the favor to the fullest extent.
After averaging 18.9 points and 6.5 assists per game over his first two seasons with Indiana, Brogdon knows what he brings to the floor. It includes a steady flow of elite talent that includes a quick first step, deadly 3-point accuracy, and stellar backcourt defense. Now, in his third year, he's focusing on another facet of the game — leadership.
"I've shown I can score the ball. I've shown I can pass it," he said. "I've shown I can really do a lot on the court. So for me, it's more mental, more up top. It's more leadership."
"This team has needed leadership. And my leadership will go to a whole other level this year."
Brogdon's focus on leadership started early for his 2021-2022 NBA campaign. In August, he invited his teammates to bond with him in Los Angeles. During the three-day trip, they played pick-up games and had dinners together, hoping to build upon their chemistry created last season.
"It was really about bonding and building," he explained. "Those are sort of the building blocks for us that we can build on this season and continue the chemistry."
If there is one strength the Pacers will have entering this season, it is roster stability. Except for Doug McDermott, who signed with the San Antonio Spurs, the roster's core is still intact. Having chemistry like that will help ease the trials and tribulations of having a new head coach once again. For instance, once news broke of Caris LeVert's back injury, Brogdon praised having Jeremy Lamb as an option to fill in until LeVert is healthy. He stated Lamb's potential transition to the starting lineup would be "seamless."
Brogdon's focus on leadership and chemistry is also apparent after discussing his relationship with Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle. He and Carlisle, also a University of Virginia alum, have already reminisced over their days playing basketball for the Cavaliers.
"We definitely have conversations about it," he said. "We laugh about it. (We had) similar experiences (on the) 'grounds' as we call the campus — it doesn't change. It's an amazing experience, and we definitely bond over it."
Carlisle has also praised Brogdon in return, stating that he's already seen Brogdon take the leadership role head-on as the season approaches.
"Ever since I've been in the fold here, he's been taking the reins as the leader," the veteran coach said. "He's the one that got these guys to come in early and commit to being here early. (It's) a huge advantage when you have a new staff. The more you can get to know everybody, it really really helps."