Milwaukee Bucks: Could Malcolm Brogdon be emerging as the true second option?

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

After just four games, Malcolm Brogdon is emerging as a genuine threat to Khris Middleton as the second best player on the Milwaukee Bucks’ roster.

What a week it has been. The Milwaukee Bucks have bolted out of the gate to start the season with a 3-1 record, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has played like a true MVP candidate by carrying Milwaukee to three very important wins.

Giannis currently leads the Bucks in four major statistical categories including scoring, where he more than doubles every player on the roster. Of course, Giannis was expected to lead the team this season, but one could hardly have imagined the run he’s gone on thus far. After winning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award, he has sprung up the boards to now be a clear favorite for MVP among Vegas oddsmakers too.

Meanwhile, the team’s occasionally lackluster supporting cast has already raised many questions about the longevity of the run the Bucks currently find themselves on. For example, Greg Monroe, Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker have all had relatively disappointing starts to the season.

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Most disappointing, however, has been Khris Middleton who has struggled to score with any regularity, including shooting an abysmal 12.5 percent from three. Even though Middleton added 20 points, including a clutch three in the final minute against Charlotte on Monday, his game looks to be lacking in confidence at present. Middleton has also struggled from the field overall, shooting below 40 percent.

While Middleton has failed to fire thus far, a shining light for the Bucks is the excellent play of reigning Rookie of the Year and second year point guard Malcolm Brogdon. Although it’s still very early, Brogdon is averaging 16 points per game, good enough for second best on the roster, while shooting a far more encouraging 50 percent from deep.

As Middleton’s early season slump has hurt Milwaukee’s three-point numbers on the whole, Brogdon’s shooting has been invaluable to the positive start.

Much was spoken about Brogdon’s sluggish preseason form, and as a result, he was not expected to be among Milwaukee’s best to start the season.

In four preseason games, Brogdon averaged 5.2 points per game while shooting 31.8 percent from the field and 7.5 percent from deep. Something was clearly off with his game and as a result, he was often pulled by early by Jason Kidd, averaging only 18.2 minutes per game.

Four games into the regular season (and having played three due to missing the Charlotte game through injury) he has appeared to buck that trend. Brogdon has clearly learned from his first season in the NBA and may well have returned a better, more refined player.

Brogdon’s defense also appears to have taken a step up, with the former Virginia Cavalier averaging 2.0 steals per game in the early running, and providing valuable minutes in crunch time.

Most impressive, though, has been Brogdon’s link up play with Giannis and his ability to get out on the break and handle the ball is much improved from last season. He is also averaging 3.7 assists per game, slightly down from last year, but with Giannis due for a much needed reduction in minutes, an increase in playmaking from Brogdon is all but assured in the near future.

Brogdon has appeared on the fringes of trade rumours early on, particularly in speculation surrounding deals for Eric Bledsoe. Undoubtedly, trading Brogdon would be a mistake for this young Bucks team as Brogdon is such an excellent fit. A genuine “3-and-D” guard who appears to have upped his dribbling game is a priceless match with Giannis as Milwaukee seeks to find their star more help.

He is also scheduled to earn less than $3 million over the next two years combined. On a team like Milwaukee who find themselves perilously close to the tax threshold and with Jabari Parker’s upcoming free agency, this will be of great importance heading forward.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: How much is too much to offer for Eric Bledsoe?

At this point, most Bucks fans expect Middleton’s poor form to be nothing but a brief aberration. Even Giannis has urged fans to remain patient with Middleton as the swingman continues to find his shot this season. But while Middleton continues to search for that form, Milwaukee may be witnessing the further emergence of Malcolm Brogdon, a player who will be vying with him for that second option title.