Malcolm Brogdon Is The Missing Piece For The Celtics

Via chowderandchampions.com

Malcolm Brogdon Is The Missing Piece For The Celtics

Basketball

Malcolm Brogdon Is The Missing Piece For The Celtics

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Via chowderandchampions.com

Watching the Boston Celtics try to manufacture offense late in the most crucial games of their season was headache-inducing. It was a struggle watching isolation possessions throughout the playoffs where their star players weren’t consistently creating easy opportunities and in some cases, even struggling with handle and ball control. Boston just didn’t have enough guys who could generate efficient shots or create open looks for their teammates. Jayson Tatum usually does a good job of this, but his combination of inefficient shooting and injured shoulder made it harder for him to carry a heavy creation load. So what could they do to solve this in the offseason?

Enter Malcolm Brogdon, a savvy veteran guard dealt to the Celtics in exchange for Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, fillers, and a first round pick. This trade was widely praised at the time and rightfully so. Brogdon at his best is a fringe All-Star level guard and the Celtics got him for two players at the bottom of their rotation and a weak first round pick.

Not only is Brogdon a high level point guard talent, but he’s the exact kind of point guard that the Celtics need. The main reason is because of his ability to pressure the rim in the half court. He was 4th among qualifying players in drives per game last season and has taken around 30% of his shots at the rim over the past three seasons. High level driving ability was something the Celtics lacked last season. Jayson Tatum was just 35th in drives per game and has the worst shot quality in the league according to BBall Index. Jaylen Brown was 39th in drives per game. Those are fine numbers, but it’s not towards the top of the league. Brogdon on the other hand pressures the rim at a level that few do.

What excites me about Brogdon is the creativity he can bring as a driver. He’s surprisingly bursty in a straight line and can cover ground quickly despite not being an elite athlete, he can beat defenders off the bounce using change of pace or direction, and he’s got a polished floater. He’s not an incredible finisher (statistically below-average the past three years) but with his volume of shots and the diversity in how he gets his buckets at the rim, he’s so unpredictable.

Being a consistent finisher isn’t what makes Brogdon perfect for this offense. Being someone who can consistently force defenses to rotate to open shots for shooters and create easy opportunities for others. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are both excellent players and true stars in this league. However, a lot of their self-generated shots are often created jumpers. They’re both high-level shooters and those shots do provide tons of value because of how talented they are as scorers, but they don’t bend defenses as consistently as Brogdon does. That’s why his skill set is so coveted for this roster.

On top of his elite ability to create advantages and get to the rim, Brogdon provides a ton of value in other areas. He’s a fantastic floor general who controls the offense and provides steady play consistently. He’s a terrific PNR operator who has terrific synergy with his bigs and is able to manipulate defenses once he gets to the paint. He’s a terrific inside-out passer who makes strong interior and exterior reads to set up cutters and shooters alike. His passing is one of his best skills and it’s something that has flourished ever since he shouldered more of an on-ball creator load with the Indiana Pacers. 

Because of the talent in Boston, he won’t have quite that same high workload. However, he’s going to be able to thrive with or without the ball because we’ve seen it already in two different situations:

Brogdon served as a complimentary piece with the Milwaukee Bucks where he was more of a spot-up shooter and role player. With Indiana, he was closer to an offensive engine and his shooting nosedived while his points and assists skyrocketed. In Boston, we’ll get to see the best of both worlds. He’ll be able to be used offensively as a lead initiator at times, but not to the point where he becomes overextended. In an off-ball role, we can see him use his connective skills and driving ability to attack the rim off the catch and make plays. 

His shooting has taken a dip in recent years but I firmly believe he is a good if not great shooter. During his first three years when he was with Milwaukee, Brogdon shot 41% from three on just over three attempts per game. With Indiana, he shot 35% on just over five attempts per game. I believe he’s significantly closer to the Milwaukee percentages as a shooter compared to the Indiana percentages. Last season he only played in 36 games but when he played in 56 of the 72 games the year prior, he shot 44% on all catch and shoot looks while shooting 39% on just under seven attempts per game. He’s not an elite pull-up shooter due to his mechanical limitations but he’s a serviceable one while being a terrific spot-up shooter. He should have no troubles as a shooter in Boston.

Brogdon also helps the Celtics maintain their strong defensive identity. Though he’s not the best man-to-man defender, he’s extremely strong for his size and is a solid team defender. He’s also at incredible hands to dig at the nail and strip players when they’re going into their shot motion. He’s not an elite defender, but his hands, activity, and strong fundamentals make him a high IQ defender. 

The Celtics are looking to seek revenge in the 2022-23 NBA season and bring home a championship that was taken from them last year. Malcolm Brogdon should be a huge piece of the puzzle for them. His excellent rim pressuring mixed with his steadiness as a shooter, playmaker, and defender makes him the perfect guard for this roster. His skill set meshes perfectly and his most valuable traits are going to be enhanced with this team. Celtics fans should be extremely excited to see him suit up for the green and white next season.

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