Milwaukee Bucks: Revisiting the significance of Malcolm Brogdon’s departure

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 27: (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 27: (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

We’re still far away from seeing the full effects of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to let Malcolm Brogdon walk in free agency, but his versatile skill set will not be easily replicated, even in light of the additions they’ve made to fill his void.

No move throughout the Milwaukee Bucks’ dealings this offseason has incited discussion quite like the departure of Malcolm Brogdon.

Losing a high-quality starter, and one who crafted a 50-40-90 campaign like Brogdon did throughout what was one of the best seasons in the franchise’s history, will naturally lead to such heated discourse around Bucks fan circles. Especially when that same Bucks team came within two games of making the Finals last year before their stunning collapse in the Conference Final series against the eventual champs, the Toronto Raptors.

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On the other hand, the financial aspects that spurred the 26-year-old’s departure, ranging from Bucks ownership’s decision not to go into the luxury tax as well as the hefty, wholly deserved raise Brogdon received from the Indiana Pacers, are intrinsically tied to the sign-and-trade pact the two parties made on the opening day of free agency.

Even so, for a team that can ill afford to stand in the way of their title pursuit with the contending window that suddenly opened up last season with the arrival of head coach Mike Budenholzer, Brogdon’s exit will undoubtedly be felt to some degree over the course of next season.

To the front office’s credit, the Bucks didn’t rest on their laurels filling the spot previously occupied on the team’s depth chart, taking on a shrewd approach by bringing in a pair of cost-effective veteran additions in the form of Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews in free agency.

Picking up one of the most renowned deadeye shooters in NBA history in Korver, as well as a very good one like Matthews, will definitely help the Bucks fill the shooting void left behind by Brogdon, and then some. And the Bucks’ three-point happy system will generate a high amount of catch-and-shoot opportunities for both shooting specialists after ranking first in that regard last season, per

But as much as Korver, Matthews and the Bucks’ cast of promising wings such as Sterling Brown and Pat Connaughton can combine to fulfill the shooting and spacing threat that Brogdon provided to a remarkable degree, it’s hard to say whether they can match the wider array of ball skills the 26-year-old brought to the table.

While not as potent as his ability to knock down shots off the ball, Brogdon was more than just a serviceable on-ball threat as he was a very willing driver to the rack, often putting his head and muscling through defenders to put down smooth finishes. To that point, Brogdon ranked behind reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe on the Bucks by attempting 10.1 drives per game and he managed to post a 53.3 field goal percentage as well as generate points on 63.6 percent of such opportunities.

That crept into his finishing prowess as well, as part of the Bucks’ offensive overhaul under Budenholzer, and the Virginia alum converted a solid 60.5 percent on his 397 attempts within the restricted area last season.

Milwaukee obviously has a number of exceptional penetrators with the ball in their hands between Antetokounpo, Bledsoe, and veteran George Hill, to name a few, and they will continue to shoulder an expanded workload in light of Brogdon moving to the Hoosier State.

But the overarching theme in regards to Brogdon’s departure is that the Bucks don’t exactly possess a player that carried the balance or mix of the complementary set of offensive skills and attributes that Brogdon offered throughout his three-year stint in the Cream City and it applies to any of the offseason additions they’ve made.

And while Brogdon’s defensive services never stood up to the two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year distinction he held coming out of Charlottesville, given his athletic and quickness deficiencies, he gave the Bucks a sturdy, versatile option that stood as a key cog for the team in big moments.

Look no further than the effect Brogdon had when checking superstar Kawhi Leonard over the course of the Bucks’ Conference Finals series against the Toronto Raptors a few months back as an example (Brogdon held Leonard to 47 points on 16-of-45 shooting from the field and 3-of-9 from downtown in the 135 possessions Brogdon matched up on the two-time NBA Finals MVP throughout the series).

Of course, there are other ways the Bucks will look to make up for the areas that Brogdon previously covered, and the additions and Korver and Matthews will give them more willing marksmen than Brogdon has shown himself to be throughout his career, given his rather slow shooting release.

The truth of the matter in regard to how the Bucks will look to cover their losses in losing Brogdon, and whether they will ultimately live to regret that decision, will likely fall in the middle.

The Bucks have bought into the fruits of the system implemented by Budenholzer and it’s very possible that Brogdon will struggle to eclipse the very high standard he set for himself, efficiency wise, elsewhere in his career. The same holds true for the role change he looks to take on with the Pacers, at least initially while they look to fill the void left by their injured All-Star guard, Victor Oladipo.

However, although Brogdon was among many Bucks players to benefit from the arrival of Budenholzer last season, it shouldn’t dismiss the fine player he was upon joining the fold after being taken with the 36th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Next. Bucks: Is the roster better or worse than last season?. dark

The reasons for why the Bucks were willing to accelerate Brogdon’s departure as they looked to reload their roster for next year’s title were valid, and they will look to a host of options to collectively cover his skill set and contributions in the aggregate. But that doesn’t mean they won’t feel any side effects of letting Brogdon go and we’ll just have to see whether they can survive the consequences of making such a decision with their title hopes on the line.