Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadza? Here's who the Wizards must stop to win in Indy

Quinton Mayo
NBC Sports Washington

After the Wizards claimed their first home victory over an extremely undermanned Detroit Pistons team, they turn their attention to the Indiana Pacers who are in the midst of a three-game winning streak after starting the season 0-3.

While Bradley Beal is the most notable name amongst both teams, the Pacers don't lack playmakers and game-changers. Here's who Wizards fans, and players, should keep an eye on.

Malcolm Brogdon

Season stats: 22 pts, 5.3 reb, 9.7 ast

The Indiana Pacers' biggest transaction of the 2019 offseason was the sign-and-trade to acquire Mr. 50/40/90, Malcolm Brogdon, from the Milwaukee Bucks. Brogdon was regarded as the third option on the Bucks, behind reigning league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo and first-time All-Star, Khris Middleton. But since joining a Pacers team void of Victor Oladipo, Brogdon has not only taken over the main ball-handling responsibilities but become one of the top performers in The Association.

His current usage rate of 27.3 is a substantial increase over the 20.7 he posted last season in Milwaukee. The mark of a player truly establishing himself as a force in the league is the ability to maintain or increase his level of production with a larger minutes load, as well as defensive attention - Brogdon has done just that. His 9.7 assists per game have him sitting as the second leading assist man in the league behind the one-and-only, LeBron James (11.2). He's also fifth in the league in assist percentage (46.6) which is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor. His playmaking numbers are remarkably impressive because he's a career 3.8 assists per game player - his talents must have been hidden behind the 7-foot-3 Giannis wingspan, and lack of substantial minutes played at point guard.

Brogdon's 22.5 points per game grant him bragging rights as a top 20 scorer in the league right now - he's positioned between Kyle Lowry (22.5) and Jayson Tatum (22.0) who have both taken substantial leaps in their scoring production since last season.

This team goes where Malcolm goes, you stop him down you stop the heartbeat of their offense.

Domantas Sabonis

Season stats: 21.8 pts, 11.4 reb, 2.6 ast, 57 FG%

Two weeks removed from signing a 4-year, $79.4 million contract extension, Sabonis has proven to be worth every penny thus far (except for possibly missing his second straight game tonight, against the Charlotte Hornets, with a calf contusion - minor). Assuming you've read his season stat line, Sabonis has been a pleasant surprise early on in the season after only starting five games last year.

While the easy thing to do is focus on how his offensive prowess has translated to wins, it's his leadership and effort on the defensive side of the ball that has this Pacers team in the midst of a hot streak. Indiana is currently 10th in the NBA in defensive rating (102.1), 11th in steals (8.2), 6th in blocks (5.8), and first in opponent fast break points (8.8).

Goga Bitadza?

Season stats: 5.3 points, 4.0  reb, 1.0 ast, 4.0 blks

A personal favorite here, Goga's been getting more opportunities to put his talents on display with the recent absences of defensive anchor Myles Turner (right ankle sprain) and Sabonis (calf contusion). In his last two appearances, he's tallied 19 points, 8 blocks, and 14 rebounds. The name is unfamiliar to most but if he played in one more game, prior to tomorrow's matchup, he'd be leading the league in blocked shots (4.0).


Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadza? Here's who the Wizards must stop to win in Indy originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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