Before the start of the 2016-17 season, few expected Malcolm Brogdon to rank among the NBA’s top rookies by year’s end. The whole league passed on the Virginia guard last June, with concerns about the ceiling of a 23-year-old four-year college player — albeit one who won ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior — leading to Brogdon dropping out of the first round and not coming off the board until the Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the 36th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
And yet, in the campaign’s final week, Brogdon stands as one of only a few players with a very real shot to win Rookie of the Year. Some of that’s due to shooting star Joel Embiid being limited by injury to just 31 games. Some of it’s due to his own strong work as a steady-playmaking and sweet-shooting complement to Giannis Antetokounmpo on a Bucks team that, before a recent skid, had begun looking like the kind of team nobody wanted to play in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
When their players get within striking distance of this kind of individual honor, a lot of teams start lobbying the media members who vote for year-end awards with cute and clever direct-mail campaigns. (Think Big Al’s Paint, the Lou Williams 6th Man Easy Button, “Superman”-inspired briefcases for Dwight Howard, beard-grooming kits for James Harden, and Andrew Wiggins-themed socks.) The Bucks were all set to crank up their promotional machine to toot Brogdon’s horn … but apparently, the rookie had other ideas:
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 7, 2017
From a Bucks team statement, as shared by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:
We thought about producing some costly and gimmicky campaign materials to convince you to vote Malcolm Brogdon for Rookie of the Year, but Malcolm asked us to take that money and make a charitable donation instead.
So in lieu of creating a bunch of fake $1 bills with Malcolm’s face on it (his teammates call him The President and he’s a Buck … get it?), here are some simple facts:
Heading into the final week of his rookie season, Brogdon:
• Leads all qualified rookies in Win Shares and ranks second in PER
• Ranks first among qualified rookies in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, assists per game and steals per game
• Is the only rookie to record a triple-double this season (and the first rookie not drafted in the first round to do so since 1988)
A Bucks spokesperson told Yahoo Sports on Saturday that the amount donated will be $5,000. The specific charity hasn’t yet been determined, but “Malcolm is working with the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation to make the contribution.”
While voters won’t receive any Brogdon bills, the Bucks did make a brief campaign video highlighting The President’s case (and his somewhat surprising penchant for posterization) to entice voters to consider his candidacy:
One thing that might help establish Brogdon’s value nearly as much as the 10.3 points, 4.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals he’s averaging in 26.5 minutes per game: the fact that Milwaukee has gone 1-3 in the four games he’s missed with a sore back, with the Bucks often looking disorganized in his absence, and sometimes comically so:
Pacers-Bucks was tied at 38 mid-2Q. Over 2.5-min span, Indy goes on 10-0 run with SIX steals! 4 TOs by Delly alone! https://t.co/bzRsIb46p0
The sore back will keep Brogdon out for Saturday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers and fellow ROY-candidate Dario Saric. Bucks coach Jason Kidd said Brogdon and center John Henson have both “gone through contact drills in the past two days and are likely to return Monday for the Bucks’ final home game of the regular season,” according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Whether or not Brogdon will be able to finish the season with an on-court flourish that sticks in the mind of awards voters remains to be seen. It’s a pretty good bet that his off-court gesture has won him some admiration among the electorate, though.
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