Milwaukee Bucks: Things Just Got Real For Malcolm Brogdon, Rashad Vaughn

Apr 5, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Rashad Vaughn (20) catches a pass during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Rashad Vaughn (20) catches a pass during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

It seemed like Malcolm Brogdon and Rashad Vaughn would be able to learn from bench roles with the Milwaukee Bucks this season. So much for that plan.

The good news for the coming season is that the Milwaukee Bucks young wing players, Rashad Vaughn and Malcolm Brogdon, will get a slew of chances to prove that they belong in the NBA.

The bad news is they’ll get those chances because Khris Middleton, also known as the glue that held the Bucks together last season, is out for six months.

In trying to focus on the silver lining, it is fun that Brogdon and Vaughn will get an audition, essentially. With money in Milwaukee getting extremely tight, the Bucks can only afford to keep players that really fit with their team.

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Milwaukee controls both of those guys for the next few years on cheap deals already, but this year could be a building block for either of them to make a case for getting paid after their rookie deals run out.

It could also be evidence enough that the Bucks would be better off cutting one or both of them loose early and finding something else to do with their roster spot, like what happened with Damien Inglis and Johnny O’Bryant this past summer.

Those two should serve as cautionary tales to Vaughn and Brogdon. In terms of purely financial reasoning, keeping those second-round rookies was always the best move for the Bucks.

That being said, neither of them impressed the team enough and thus they were both released. Even though they could’ve served as essentially free bench-warmers, the Bucks cut them to go add more talent.

This Milwaukee Bucks front office wants to win, and if a player isn’t helping then they’ll probably be leaving pretty soon. Brogdon and Vaughn both have factors working against them in that regard.

Vaughn had one of the worst rookie seasons possible last year, staying pretty healthy but struggling with his game all the way through. Brogdon hasn’t had much of a chance to disappoint yet, but he’s a second-round pick so much of his contract isn’t guaranteed.

For now at least, Vaughn is getting a starting role with the team. Not even he sounds convinced that’ll last though, according to another tweet from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Charles Gardner.

That’s the right attitude to have, and an encouraging one to see from Vaughn especially. It’ll take a lot of hard work for him to rebound from his first NBA season, but if he’s out here trying to work harder than ever he just might be able to pull it off.

Similar challenges await Brogdon. Coming into the NBA from the NCAA is difficult for any player. Now add the expectations of a team looking to win both now and later, but subtract the proven starter at the position of the rookie.

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Jason Kidd has kind of referred to Brogdon as a point guard, which could be another reason the Bucks didn’t feel bad about swapping out Tyler Ennis for Michael Beasley. Brogdon could certainly play minutes at the shooting guard position though, with the added effect of inserting another ball-handler into the lineup.

The 6’5″ Brogdon could probably be termed as a combo guard in the NBA. Even though he wasn’t a nominal point guard at Virginia, he sported an assist-turnover ratio of better than 2.0 in his senior season. The rook can move the ball.

Usually official positions don’t matter much anymore, but between Kidd lumping Brogdon in with his ball-handlers and then not mentioning him as a possible Middleton replacement, it’s possible that Vaughn will get more of a chance in Middleton’s absence.

Those are just quotes from before the preseason even began, so it’s important to not read them like scripture, but it does sound for the moment that Vaughn will get the first chance to step in for Middleton.

Brogdon may end up getting those minutes too, or he could become the nominal backup point guard if Michael Carter-Williams and Jason Terry also play more of a shooting guard/wing role, as Kidd implies in that last Gardner tweet.

Next: A Look Ahead To The 2017 Offseason

Either way, both Malcolm Brogdon and Rashad Vaughn will be needed far more than anybody thought before Khris Middleton got injured. There’s no telling if they’re up for the tall task of filling in for Middleton, but at least the young guards will get a chance to prove they belong on the NBA floor.