Milwaukee Bucks: Malcolm Brogdon details how he was drafted at 36th overall

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for TNT )
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for TNT ) /

Malcolm Brogdon proved to be a second round steal for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016, but it took a lot of twists and turns for him to fall to the 36th pick.

Former Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon has been in the news a lot recently.

Now with the Indiana Pacers, the 27-year-old has been one of the most visible and vocal players from around the NBA involved in protesting and spreading awareness around issues of police brutality and racial injustice in light of the killing of George Floyd.

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To Bucks fans, that will come as no surprise as they got to know Brogdon as an incredibly intelligent, astute, and good-hearted individual over his three years playing in Milwaukee.

Making an appearance on The JJ Redick Podcast on Thursday to discuss recent events across America, as well as the challenges facing the NBA’s planned resumption, Brogdon also opened up about his pre-draft story. In short, the fact that he ended up in Milwaukee to begin with was no sure thing, and a journey that featured many twists and turns.

When Brogdon was acquired by the Pacers via sign-and-trade last summer, he mentioned that the Pacers had been a team who wanted him prior to the 2016 draft. In speaking to Redick, Brogdon revealed that he had in fact received a promise from the Pacers and Larry Bird with the 20th overall pick following a stellar showing at the Draft Combine.

"“I had a great first day, and I was debating whether I’d sit out because Larry Bird had called and said ‘We’re going to draft him. We’re going to take him. He doesn’t have to work out for everybody, we’re going to take him.’"

That ultimately proved to be a promise that Indiana would later renege on, though, as a closer look at Brogdon’s medical records left the Pacers significantly troubled by the outlook with his foot injury.

"“A few days before the draft, we get a call and the Pacers’ medical team has looked into my foot injury I had my freshman year at Virginia in college. And they were like, ‘We can’t take him, he’s had this injury. It’s something that if the surgery doesn’t hold up, and we know it’s held up for three or four years, but we’d be surprised if it holds up for another year or two. So we have to pass him.'”"

The Pacers would ultimately trade out of their pick, allowing the Brooklyn Nets to select Caris LeVert at that spot.

As Brogdon detailed in conversation with Redick, that then opened up a wide variety of alternative possibilities. Brogdon who was represented by David Falk, then expected to land at 22 with the Charlotte Hornets and Falk’s most famous former client, Michael Jordan. Charlotte’s medical team put paid to that hope.

Brogdon claims that both Masai Ujiri and Dwyane Casey were said to be big fans of his, but the Toronto Raptors ultimately passed on him at 27 too. That then left the Warriors and Spurs as potential landing spots, with Brogdon describing the latter as “the team I wanted to go to my whole life.” After those two opted not to pick Brogdon and it became clear he was going to be a second rounder, Falk’s approach to trying to find his client a team changed, though.

Rather than having Brogdon land in losing situations with teams who may also have had less opportunity for playing time at Brogdon’s preferred position, Falk made the case to Brogdon that it would be better for him to fall to the Bucks’ young squad and get a chance to compete for a starter’s spot under a Hall of Fame point guard such as Jason Kidd.

"“I could fall to the Lakers at 32 and the Suns at 34, and they both really wanted me, but my agent basically convinces them not to take me. He’s like, ‘It’s a bad situation. You can go to Milwaukee and compete for the starting job with the Bucks, you’ll have a good chance of getting it, but it’s also Jason Kidd. He’s a point guard, you’ve a chance to really learn from him, and it’s a building team and you can grow with them. That’s where we want you to go.’ So he had me fall to the sixth pick in the second round, after it was clear I wasn’t going to be drafted in the first round.”"

There was just one problem, though, as the Bucks seemingly weren’t keen on drafting Brogdon.

According to Brogdon, Falk used the player option held by another one of his clients, Greg Monroe, for the following offseason as leverage, and asked the Bucks to trust him on this pick. Of course, Brogdon and Monroe would go on to become particularly close during the following season.

"“We got to the second round and my agent was like ‘I’m going to try to get the Bucks to draft you.’ He was on the phone with the Bucks, and they were like, ‘We’re not worried about his foot, but we’re not sure we want him.’ My agent convinced them to take me, he was like ‘Look, I’m doing you a favor, he’s going to be really good. Just take him.’ Greg Monroe re-signed that year, he had a player option and he stayed there, and [Falk] was like, ‘Look, I want you guys back with Greg, just take Malcolm, do me this favor.’ So they took me, even though they didn’t want me, and it then started working out pretty well.”"

Interestingly, for as much as the Bucks may not have been sold on Brogdon, taking him turned out to be a key sliding doors moment.

Even though Brogdon eventually moved on, he was a key player in the Bucks’ climb to the top of the Eastern Conference and welcoming in a new wave of optimism and positivity around Milwaukee basketball. When he did depart for Indianapolis last summer, the Bucks also were able to yield additional assets in return, such as their pick in the 2020 Draft which could still prove important for Milwaukee’s future.

Additionally, although logic would have suggested Monroe would have opted in to the final year of his deal the following summer, if Falk had any role in convincing him to do so, that ultimately set the table for the Bucks to be able to land Eric Bledsoe using Monroe’s salary as a core component of that trade.

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As Brogdon laid out, his draft case is filled with hypothetical scenarios and what if questions, but beyond that the same questions would apply to the Bucks if they had gone in a different direction with that 36th overall pick.