The Indiana Pacers’ biggest transaction of the 2019 offseason was a sign-and-trade to land Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks.
During his three seasons with Milwaukee, the 6-foot-5 guard spent most of his minutes at shooting guard. But on his new team, he has switched to play mostly point guard. As the team waits for Victor Oladipo to return from his injury, the former second-round pick has become a staple for Indiana.
Brogdon’s usage rate (32.3 percent) is currently at an all-time high. But he has capitalized on the larger role as his assist percentage ranks Top 5 among all qualified players and he ranks second-best in assists per game. Perhaps the most impressive note is that his pure point rating (PPR) is higher than anyone else in the NBA.
Overall, either as the scorer or the distributor, Brogdon has had his hand on 43.3 percent of buckets scored by the Pacers. That trails just LeBron James and Russell Westbrook for the highest mark in the league.
His bread-and-butter has been his effectiveness in running the pick-and-roll. His passes in these sets have led to 12.2 points per game, via Synergy Sports, the second-most in the league behind only Luka Doncic.
Many of these dimes have gone to Domantas Sabonis, who ranks No. 1 overall in points scored per game as the roll man in a pick-and-roll offense. Meanwhile, teammate Myles Turner ranks second-best (!) in points scored in the pick-and-roll and no team is scoring more points from these sets than Indiana has scored.
Not only has Brogdon fed Sabonis in the pick-and-roll but the two teammates have already established fantastic chemistry with the inverse as well with the power forward running handoffs for the guard. Sabonis is currently averaging 61.0 passes per game, which ranks Top 5 among all players in the Eastern Conference. Yet approximately half of his passes have gone to Brogdon.
“Domas is a big that we like to involve with handling the basketball, playing a two-man game with different combinations of guards,” Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan told Hoopshype. “He does a good job of running that offense and when we have a big that can handle out front and make passes to initiate our offense, that’s been good for us.”
Brogdon has averaged 3.2 points per game when scoring off handoffs, per Synergy, which is second-most in the NBA behind only Denver’s Gary Harris.
That was one of the goals that Pacers executive Kevin Pritchard set for the team as he called Sabonis “one of the best” dribble handoff facilitators in the league. This is a play type that JJ Redick specifically fantasized about when he considered signing with Indiana during the 2018 offseason.
The play has worked not only for three-pointers but also for drives leading to midrange floaters. With the help of Sabonis, this has been a fantastic addition to the arsenal for Brogdon – who averaged just 1.0 ppg on handoffs during his final campaign with the Bucks.
As he gets more comfortable and familiar with the Pacers’ system, he may only continue to improve. And when Oladipo returns from injury, he can still be effective in ways more similar to how he played for Milwaukee.