Player Review 2020: Malcolm Brogdon

Age: 27
Years Pro: 4
Status: Entering the second season of a four-year deal.
Key Stats: Averaged 16.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 7.1 assists over 54 regular season games. Averaged 21.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 10 assists in playoff series against Miami.

Malcolm Brogdon was the Pacers' signature acquisition in their busy offseason last summer, acquired from Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade deal in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

At Brogdon's introductory press conference on July 8, 2019, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard detailed how thrilled he was to bring Brogdon to Indiana, declaring it "one of the best days in this franchise's history."

That statement may have set lofty expectations for the 6-5 guard, but Brogdon largely delivered in his first season with the Blue & Gold, embracing a lead role with the organization on and off the court.

Brogdon started his Pacers career in grand fashion with four straight double-doubles to open the regular season. It was immediately apparent that his size and playmaking ability gave Indiana a weapon it had not had at the point guard position in many years.

For much of the first half of the season, Brogdon appeared to be a strong candidate to earn his first All-Star selection. Through the end of November, he led the Pacers in scoring, averaging 19.4 points and 7.9 assists over his first 16 games.

Indeed, Brogdon might well have made the All-Star team if it wasn't for a series of minor injuries that caused him to miss 14 games before the All-Star rosters were revealed in late January. He missed three games with a sore lower back, one with a sore right hand, three with a sore left hamstring, four more with a sore lower back, one with strep throat, and two while in the NBA's concussion protocol.

After the All-Star break, the bad luck continued for Brogdon, as he tore the rectus femoris muscle in his left quadriceps, an injury that would have sidelined him for multiple weeks if the COVID-19 pandemic had not forced the NBA to pause the season (Brogdon still missed three games with the injury).

Then as the preparation began for the season to resume, Brogdon tested positive for COVID-19, which prevented him from working out for two weeks, although he was cleared in time to travel with the team to the NBA bubble in Orlando. Once in the bubble, Brogdon missed Indiana's first seeding game with a neck strain and was also held out of the Pacers' penultimate regular season game as a precaution ahead of the playoffs.

All told, Brogdon missed 19 of Indiana's 73 regular season games due to that string of minor ailments. In many ways, injuries defined the entire 2019-20 Pacers season and Brogdon's various injuries were just a small chapter in that larger narrative.

But when he was on the court, Brogdon showed why the Pacers coveted him so badly in free agency. He set career highs in points (16.5 per game), rebounds (4.9), and assists (7.1), ranking third on the team in both scoring and rebounding while leading the Pacers (and ranking 11th in the NBA) in assists. After leading the NBA in free throw percentage in his final season in Milwaukee, Brogdon converted 89.2 percent of his foul shots this season, best on the team and seventh in the league.

The Pacers went 34-20 in games in which Brogdon played, a .630 win percentage, while they were just 11-8 (.579) without him, an illustration of his ability to impact the team's overall performance with his playmaking.

Brogdon also quickly emerged as a "closer" for Indiana, a player his teammates trusted to make a play with the game on the line. One such example was in Indiana's 105-102 win over the Lakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Dec. 17. With the game tied in the final minute, Brogdon took advantage when the 6-11 Dwight Howard switched onto him, blowing by the Lakers center and converting what proved to be the game-winning layup in one of the Pacers' signature wins of the season.

One curious anomaly amid an otherwise stellar season for Brogdon was his .326 3-point percentage. Brogdon never shot worse than 38.5 percent from 3-point range in his three seasons with the Bucks and joined the illustrious 50/40/90 club in his last year in Milwaukee, when he shot a career-best 42.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Brogdon's lower 3-point percentage with the Pacers could be partially attributed to his new role in Indiana. With the Bucks, he was a complimentary player on a Bucks team built around 2018-19 league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, while in Indiana he was asked to be the Pacers' primary playmaker for most of the season, particularly with two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo sidelined for the first half of the season while rehabbing his knee injury. Brogdon's usage rate, which is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he is on the floor, jumped from 20.7 last season in Milwaukee to 25.2 in his first year in Indiana.

Still, Brogdon's free throw percentage alone suggests that he is a much better 3-point shooter than his percentage this season would indicate and it seems like a safe assumption that he should shoot better from outside the arc next season, especially with a healthy Oladipo playing alongside him.

Malcolm Brogdon, Tyler Herro, Andre Iguodala

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Brogdon saved some of his best basketball for the end of the season. He scored 20 or more points in three of the six seeding games in which he played, including 24 points and more clutch shotmaking in another win over the Lakers on Aug. 8.

In the playoff series with the Heat, Brogdon was arguably the Pacers' best player. He averaged a team-high 21.5 points and 10 assists over the four games against Miami, highlighted by a virtuoso performance in Game 3, when he tallied 34 points, seven rebounds, 14 assists, and two steals while going 11-for-17 from the field, 4-for-7 from 3-point range, and 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

No discussion of Brogdon's first season in Indiana would be complete without acknowledging the importance of his voice in the locker room and in the community.

Despite being new to the roster, Brogdon was voted by his teammates as one of three captains this season alongside Oladipo and Myles Turner. He is also a Vice President of the NBPA, the NBA's Players Association.

Off the court, Brogdon has made his impact felt in Indiana and across the globe. In a little over a year since joining the Pacers, the University of Virginia graduate has traveled to Africa for Basketball Without Borders, hosted monthly candid conversations with at-risk middle schoolers in Indianapolis, and helped lead the charge as NBA and WNBA players have stood at the forefront of the social justice movement across the United States.

Brogdon also recently announced the launch of his Brogdon Family Foundation, whose mission is "to positively impact the lives of children, families, and communities globally through strategic investments in clean water infrastructure, education, and advocacy for the civil and human rights of all."

As good a player as Brogdon is on the court, he is doing even greater work off of it. In the coming years, he should continue to grow in both roles.