Schedule An Appearance

The Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon needs a confidence boost while adjusting to his new role

December 1st, 2017

Story by Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Before Eric Bledsoe’s arrival in Milwaukee, Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon had a role he was comfortable playing. The reigning NBA rookie of the year was the starting point guard and the team’s third-best scoring option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, usually playing alongside one or both of those players.

Over the past seven games, though, Bledsoe’s addition altering Brogdon’s role more than anyone else’s. Brogdon is coming off the bench and playing fewer minutes. He’s been mixed into different lineups and has spent more time off the ball with Bledsoe joining as an addition ball handler.

Brogdon’s production has dropped has he struggled to adjust.

In nine games before the Nov. 7 trade, Brogdon averaged 16.2 points and 4.9 assists while shooting 50.5% from the field and 48.8% on three-pointers over 33.6 minutes per game.

In the seven games since the trade, Brogdon has averaged 9.3 points and 2.0 assists while shooting 37.9% from the field and 34.8% on three-pointers over 29.1 minutes per game, a number buoyed by his 41 minutes played Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns — an overtime game in which Antetokounmpo did not play.Part of the dip in Brogdon’s shooting numbers can be attributed to the fact that shooting nearly 50% from three-point range isn’t sustainable. But the changes have also impacted Brogdon’s confidence as he’s attempted to adjust to the Bucks’ new needs as well as their altered rotations

“Confidence for me has fluctuated a little bit, just being out of rhythm,” Brogdon said. “Playing a different role on this team is a total adjustment for me.”

The Bledsoe trade didn’t just create a new on-court situation for Brogdon. It also took away one of his closest teammates in Greg Monroe, who was flipped to Phoenix in the deal.

Brogdon and Monroe had noticeable chemistry last season and that extended into the locker room where Monroe was someone with whom the rookie would talk often. With Monroe gone, Brogdon has spent more time with center John Henson, one of the other veterans he’s meshed well with both on and off the court.

“Him and Moose have been huge for me throughout my young NBA career,” Brogdon said.

“I’ve been leaning on John Henson a lot, Khris has talked to me a lot. Their advice is just to continue to play my game, regardless of my circumstance, regardless of my situation, because the team needs me to be aggressive, to play my game and be who I am.”

With Monroe on the opposing team and Henson out following an eye procedure, Brogdon continued to scuffle offensively in the first half of Milwaukee’s 113-107 overtime win in Phoenix on Wednesday night. He had one assists and missed all four of his shots in the first two quarters as his three-point shooting drought extended to eight misses in a row dating back to the fourth quarter of the Bucks’ win over the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 15.

Then in the second half, Brogdon bounced back. He got going with a finger roll through a foul by Marquese Chriss early in the third quarter then added a layup off a pass by Thon Maker. Brogdon then capped a 9-2 quarter-ending run by ending his slump from long distance with a 26-footer off a feed from Middleton with 7.0 seconds left.

“That’ll carry over to the next game,” said Brogdon, who missed his final two three-pointers of the game after that. “As a three shooter, seeing one go through the net that’s all you need to just be shooting it confidently again.”

Brogdon’s contributions in the fourth quarter were ultimately overshadowed by big shots hit by other players, but they were undoubtedly important in keeping the Bucks afloat during an extended dry spell early in the period. What had been a nine-point Milwaukee lead heading into the fourth evaporated into a three-point deficit as the Suns opened on a 12-0 run.

It was Brogdon who stemmed the tide, picking up a steal — at Monroe’s expense — and finishing a layup at the other end. He attacked the rim each of the next two possessions, missing a layup on the first try but converting in transition on the next, rebounding a miss by T.J. Warren and racing the length of the court for the score.

That layup represented his and the Bucks’ second basket of the quarter and came with 6:35 remaining.

“Huge,” Brogdon said of those layups. “For me personally it was big for my confidence. Get out in transition, get some easy buckets. For the team, I think it was the same.”

As the Bucks head into the second contest of their four-game, Western Conference road trip against the Utah Jazz at 8 p.m. Saturday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, Brogdon will need to figure out how to take the confidence he built in Phoenix and parlay that into another solid outing.

That hasn’t come easily in recent games, but it could help that the team as a whole is riding high after gutting out a victory with five players out Wednesday, including Antetokounmpo, who hopes to return to face the Jazz.

“It gives the guys on the team more confidence,” Brogdon said. “It showed us we can win without Giannis. It’s a lot harder and it takes a lot more out of us, but it shows us we can do it and gives us confidence.”

Full story with accompanying media can be found here.

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