Malcolm Brogdon has emerged as a key role player for the Bucks as a rookie.(Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)
Malcolm Brogdon was 23 years old at the 2016 NBA draft in June, played four years at Virginia and turned 24 on December 11.
He also didn't have the wow factor, lacking the athleticism and potential NBA teams crave in the draft. Before the draft, he was red-flagged because of a foot surgery during the 2011-12 college season, scaring teams from taking him in the first round.
Combine those facts, and that’s why he was chosen No. 36 in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Wow. Look at Brogdon now, producing and dunking on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds and shooting 41.3% on three-pointers.
“I’ve heard a lot about what second-round picks usually do – whether it’s D-League or whether it’s not playing – but for me, I have high expectations of myself regardless of where I’m picked,” Brogdon said. “I just wanted to have an impact for my team.”
Among rookies, Brogdon is first in assists per game; fourth in points per game; sixth in minutes per game (23.6), and first in three-point shooting percentage among players who play at least 15 minutes a game.
With guard Matthew Dellavedova (injured right hamstring) out, Bucks coach Jason Kidd has started Brogdon the past four games.
Brogdon had 12 points, eight assists, six rebounds and no turnovers in a 105-104 victory against the New York Knicks Wednesday and became the first rookie this season to record a triple-double (15 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds) in Saturday’s 116-96 victory against the Chicago Bulls.
“He just knows how to play,” Kidd said. “There’s no panic in his game.”
He is the steal of the draft – an example of a team with a need taking the right player for the right situation and creating the perfect match for both. Though it may have cost him draft spots and money in the short term, Brogdon used his lengthy college experience to his advantage.
“It helps you mature and form an identity and know who you are coming into the highest level of basketball,” he said. “I didn’t let it deter me at all or hurt my confidence. I’m a guy who’s always been underrated and under-ranked. This is part of my path. I take it on with an underdog mentality.”
Brogdon entered the league NBA-ready, capable of playing both ends of the court. He is mature, smart, willing to learn and is more veteran than rookie.
“You talk about someone who wants to be good,” Kidd said. “He works at his craft. You look at his basketball IQ. We trust him as a rookie offensive and defensively. He’s taken the challenge to play at a high level and we’re holding him accountable to that.”
Brogdon considered leaving Virginia after his redshirt junior season. But he was informed through diligent counsel that he might not be drafted in 2015 and was encouraged to return for his final season.
Rare is the NBA rookie with a college degree. Even rarer is the rookie with a master’s degree. Brogdon has a history degree and advanced degree in public policy.
He is from a family of achievers. His mom, Jann Adams, is an associate professor of psychology and associate dean of the division of science and mathematics at Morehouse College. His father, Mitchell, and two brothers, Gino and John, have law degrees.
In interview after interview, teams were so impressed with Brogdon, they called his agent, Danielle Cantor, and told her similar versions of this:
“That’s the most impressive interview I’ve ever had,” and “He’ll run for president someday.”
“I knew those interviews were important because these teams don’t just draft off skill on the court,” he said. “They draft in terms of character and how you carry yourself off the court.”
While at least one front-office exec was convinced Brogdon would go in the first round, he was available when Milwaukee picked at 36.
“I do think it’s about placement,” he said. “It’s about your skillset and how good you are but also who you play for and how your teammates take you under their wings.
“My game from college has translated into the pros. I’m just most happy with my impact on the game defensively and offensively. All around, I’ve been able to grasp the concepts and the speed of the game pretty well.”
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.