Joel Embiid and his historic season aside, this class of NBA rookies hasn’t looked all that strong yet. One half of a season is not enough time to come to a conclusion about anyone’s career, but so far this class has been, as NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper put it a month ago, bad. The number-one pick from last season hasn’t played yet and nobody else taken in the top-five has a double-digit PER (Jaylen Brown is only one who’s close).
The second-best rookie in the class wasn’t even taken in the first round. That distinction belongs to the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon, who was one of college basketball’s most accomplished players last year. Brogdon was taken with the 36th pick by the Bucks after four years of college at Virginia. Normally, college seniors are harder to get excited about because, as the thinking goes, they are known quantities who have less room to develop. Brogdon’s defied that classification already.
Brogdon has been splitting his time between point guard and shooting guard for the Bucks, and he’s started 12 games this year. He was a solid shooter at Virginia, but the main reason he’s so useful to the Bucks is that he’s knocking down his threes at 42.5 percent this year, good for tenth in the NBA. The Bucks desperately need shooting and ballhandling, both of which Brogdon helps them with while still adhering to Jason Kidd’s ‘Wingspan First’ philosophy.
As Ben Simmons and other top draft picks get their feet under them, Brogdon’s edge over the rest of his class might slip a bit, but he appears to be, at worst, a solid backup guy. Whether he keeps up his shooting clip or not, I pray he doesn’t stop posterizing guys.