After an unprecedented first season that ended with him becoming the first second-round pick to earn the Rookie of the Year award, Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon had a more tumultuous – yet still successful – sophomore season in 2017-’18.
His role was in flux as was his position following the addition of point guard Eric Bledsoe via an early-season trade. Then he suffered a partial tear of a left quadriceps tendon that kept him out of 30 games toward the end of the regular season.
Brogdon was able to return for the playoffs and performed well enough to regain a starting role. He finished the year with 55 total games under his belt but kept up his high contributions to the team at both ends.
Now, as he participates in his third NBA training camp, Brogdon is using his past experience to help him adapt to a new coaching staff and prepare for a smoother 2018-’19.
“All that stuff only builds your character and it also builds the experience that you have,” Brogdon said Thursday following practice at the Sports Science Center. “I experienced a lot last year – the trade, coming off the bench to starting, being injured, working your way back into the starting lineup, coming back in basically in the playoffs. All that stuff will only make me a better player.”
Through three days of training camp, Brogdon says he’s often been in a starting group alongside Bledsoe as the team’s two-guard. As a combo guard with skills tailored to both backcourt positions, Brogdon’s been put in situations where he’s running point or playing on the wing, which are both spots he could find himself in different lineups during the season.
Though Bledsoe, Brogdon and veteran point guard Matthew Dellavedova all bring something different to the table, coach Mike Budenholzer believes his offensive system creates opportunities for each to succeed.
“It’s more a way of playing and then within that way you find ways to accentuate your strengths,” Budenholzer said.
During the first three days of training camp, Milwaukee’s players, especially its point guards, have had to find the balance between the unselfish, passing style Budenholzer wants while making sure to take good, open shots when they come available. It’s a fine line that will take some time to figure out.
“I think we’re doing a little bit too much of it, to be honest,” Bledsoe said when asked about passing. “At some point someone’s got to shoot the ball. …
“That’s what Coach Bud’s been talking to us a lot about. You can’t pass up a good shot because sometimes you can pass up so many good shots and take a bad one. He just said the first good look you get, take it.”
When it comes to testing players at multiple positions, Brogdon hasn’t been the only backcourt player asked to test his versatility. In playing with multiple lineup combinations, Bledsoe says he, too, has been put way out of position in order to work on growing his skill set.
“Sometimes (Budenholzer) has me play the five position,” Bledsoe said. “He wants me to roll, trail — so it’s a challenge. At the same time, it’s a sacrifice, too. Not one person can play just the point guard position. Anyone can play it.”
Long wait: The NBA’s preseason slate officially begins Friday when the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets square off at the University of North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center.
The Bucks, however, won’t get a taste of preseason action until Wednesday when they open up against the Chicago Bulls at Fiserv Forum. Milwaukee’s late start means 23 other teams, including Chicago, will have already played at least one preseason game before the Bucks take the court.
“I’m sure there’s some sort of perfect honey spot,” Budenholzer said when asked about the schedule. “I couldn’t imagine having a game this quick. … We don’t play until Wednesday. That might be too long. There’s something in the middle where NBA players, they love to start playing against another team.”
While the players are undoubtedly looking forward to getting some game action against an outside opponent, Brogdon sees some positives in the way the schedule is set up.
“I think it helps, especially with us,” he said. “We’re a team that has had a lot of change. There’s a new coach, there are new, big free agents that will play a big role this season. I think any extra time we get right now will help us.”
Sold-out scrimmage: The Bucks will hold their Green & Cream Scrimmage at 11 a.m. Saturday at Fiserv Forum.
The free, general-admission event is similar to other preseason scrimmages in the past, but with one major difference – it’s sold out.
“We’re probably going to be a little bit excited to go there and play in the arena for the first time,” Budenholzer said. “If it’s a sold-out building that’s going to make it even better. It will be almost like a preseason game – we’ll scrimmage a lot and there will be a lot of up and down. … I think the fans will love it and the players, I’m sure, will love it, too.”