Malcolm Brogdon has officially become a member of the Boston Celtics and his arrival will fill one of the most gaping holes in last season’s NBA Finals runner-up.
What makes this deal even sweeter for the Celtics is that this acquisition only cost them their first round pick next year, which is expected to be in the high 20s if everything goes as planned, and a handful of seldom used role players.
While Marcus Smart thrived in his first full campaign as Boston’s starting point guard and was named the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, their need for a true playmaker was quite glaring. Smart’s strength has always been his defensive acumen more than anything else and though he averaged a career-high 5.9 assists last season, the Celtics’ offense was prone to stagnation as they often settled for three-pointers.
Brogdon’s skillset perfectly fills this need and his playmaking abilities should help them alleviate one of their biggest weaknesses last year. On the surface, Brogdon and Smart had identical assist averages last year, although that can be attributed to the former having to share the floor with the ball-dominant Domantas Sabonis and Tyrese Haliburton over the course of last season.
His best season as a facilitator came in his first year with the Indiana Pacers where he racked up 7.1 assists per game along with 16.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. This version of Brogdon was quite impressive and turned a few heads, yet Boston will not need him to take on this large of a role.
The more accurate representation of what he will do for this team may be seen from his production during his last season with the Milwaukee Bucks where he averaged 15.6 points per game on elite 50-40-90 shooting percentages (Field goals, three-pointers, and free throws) coupled with 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
Brogdon was deployed here as a shooting guard alongside a starting group composed of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez. His secondary playmaking skills were quite useful and his floor-spacing was invaluable to the Bucks who have still not found a long-term replacement for Brogdon since he left in 2019.
These tools should help him fit right in and ease the burden on Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, particularly in the shot creation department. Smart has shown some improvement here, albeit it is still not as smooth and on par with what is typically expected from a lead point guard. Having a player of Brogdon’s caliber around will make their lives much easier in this upcoming season.
The 6’5 Brogdon is expected to come off the bench behind Smart, but should play a major role for them as a Sixth Man that can play either guard position similar to what Derrick White did for them following his acquisition at last season’s trade deadline.
However, the biggest challenge for Brogdon will be to stay healthy given his well-populated injury history. The relatively lighter load, following four consecutive seasons as a full-time starter, will help in this aspect and less responsibilities in a return to a Milwaukee-esque role will also boost his effectiveness and efficiency.
These moves should help address their shortcomings in last year’s NBA Finals where they were just two wins away from the title. Brogdon’s addition, coupled with the added experience that their core group gained, places them as one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to win the East in this coming season. Now that they’ve reloaded, Boston is ready for another shot at the elusive 18th championship for this storied franchise.