Fantasy Basketball: Is Malcolm Brogdon Really a Difference Maker?
Seemingly out of nowhere, Milwaukee Bucks rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon, the 36th overall pick in last year's draft, has been a top-50 fantasy asset (per Yahoo!) since joining the Bucks' starting lineup two weeks ago.
Brogdon was a popular fantasy add when Matthew Dellavadova went down with hamstring injury in the waning days of 2016, and he quickly paid dividends for his owners by posting a 15-point, 10-rebound, 12-assist triple-double in his second start.
Even more promising, Brogdon has retained his starting role even upon Dellevadova's return.
There's a chance his spot in the Bucks' starting lineup has been solidified, but is the young guard a true fantasy difference maker going forward?
Good (Not Great) Assists
Fantasy basketball owners who added Brogdon after his triple-double against the Bulls have likely been a little underwhelmed by his dimes output after such a stellar line.
His assists per game during his two weeks since assuming a starting role places him just inside the top 30 of assists production in that span. It's not a terrible mark, but it doesn't exactly distinguish him to the extent that point guard-needy owners might have hoped.
Brogdon's assist percentage on the season is somewhat instructive here, even if it is a bit skewed by his lower-usage play early on. The Bucks' guard has assisted on 23.4% of his teammates makes across the year; players with similar rates are Al Horford, Marc Gasol, and Mason Plumlee -- skilled passers, certainly, but not primary ball-handlers.
The depressed assists rate could have something to do with the ascension of usage monster Giannis Antetokounmpo, who bests Brogdon's assist rate with a 27.8% mark of his own.
Another indication that this subdued assist rate is more a valid trend for Brogdon than a sample-size anomaly is that the young guard never averaged more than 3.1 assists per game during his four years with the Virginia Cavaliers.
Value In Efficiency
So if it's not assist output that has accounted for Brogdon's path to top-50 fantasy value, then what has?
His 14 points per game are nothing to sneeze at, but it's not a difference-making output by any means. And while Brogdon has thus far been an efficient three-point shooter (more on that later), he's averaging fewer than three attempts from deep per game during his tenure as a starter. At this rate, it's hard to expect him to exceed the just over one made three he's averaged per game over the past two weeks.
Brogdon's four-plus rebounds per game are a nice chip-in, consistent with the boards numbers he put up with Virginia. That said, it's not as if his rebound share on the Bucks is especially robust -- his 6.3% total rebound percentage is in line with rates from moderately productive athletic guards like Derrick Rose, Shaun Livingston, and Iman Shumpert.
The true buoy to Brodgon's recent rise in fantasy profile is his efficiency, both from the field and from the line.
Since joining the starting lineup, Brogdon has shot 46% from the field on just under 11 attempts per game. Even more impressively, he's missed only one of his 24 free throw attempts since joining the starters, good for a 96% rate, a top-10 mark in that span for players averaging more than two attempts from the line per game.
Judging by his shot distribution across the current season, Brogdon's efficiency from the field appears to be no major fluke. Brodgon is a model of modern NBA scoring efficiency, logging over 70% of his field goal attempts either from within four feet or from beyond the arc.
The young guard delivers, too -- he's connecting on almost 44% of his three-point attempts, as well as almost 57% from close range.
Temper Your Expectations
All this considered, it seems sensible to temper our rest-of-season expectations for Brogdon.
One would think he has played too well for even the fickle Jason Kidd to relegate him back to a 20-minute role now that Dellevadova is getting back to full speed. However, it's fair to expect five or so minutes to be shaved off Brogdon's share going forward.
This means there's not likely to be much upside in the counting stat department. Assuming Brogdon's free-throw and three-point efficiency regress from "great" to merely "very good", we're more likely looking at a solid top-80 asset going forward, not the top-50 breakout we've seen over the past two weeks.
Brogdon is clearly an add or hold across all standard formats, and probably deserves to be owned him more than the 60% of Yahoo! leagues that currently roster him. It just doesn't seem wise to sell the farm for him, even if you're hungry for a productive guard.