If Malcolm Brogdon consistently played the way he did against the Sixers in the playoffs last season, he’d be one of the best offensive players in the NBA.
As a member of the Celtics, he scorched the Sixers to the tune of 16.0 points in 29.2 minutes per game while shooting a blistering 52.3% on 6.3 threes per game. Last season in Boston, Brogdon took home the Sixth Man of the Year award, but was traded this offseason as part of the deal that sent Jrue Holiday to the Celtics.
Now, as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, Brogdon seems like an ideal trade candidate with a rebuilding team. If Portland looks to move the 31-year-old, should the Sixers have interest?
A backup ball handler behind Tyrese Maxey has been a popular take for folks when talking about what the Sixers should target. Shooting is always valued around the league, but it’s especially paramount for a team featuring Joel Embiid.
Those are two boxes Brogdon clearly ticks. Brogdon has plenty of experience running an NBA offense during his time with the Pacers. He arrived in Indiana after getting a decent payday following three years in Milwaukee. He put up solid numbers as the Pacers’ lead ball handler before being dealt to the Celtics. Throughout his career he’s been a decent playmaker (24% assist percentage) while not being too turnover prone (11.3% turnover percentage).
After his percentages fluctuated a bit with the Pacers, he’s solidified himself as an elite shooter the last two seasons. He’s hit 43.2% on 4.7 attempts from deep per game. With the Celtics those looks came much more easily. With the Blazers he’s had to work to find them, but is still producing.
There are concerns about Brogdon’s injury history and defense.
There were reportedly worries about Brogdon’s knees going back to his time at Virginia. That could’ve been part of the reason he slipped to the Bucks in the second round in 2016. After playing in 75 games during his Rookie of the Year season, Brogdon played just 48 in his second season after suffering a partially torn left quad. He missed a chunk of the 2018-19 season because of plantar fasciitis.
After signing with the Pacers, Brogdon played in just 54 games in his first season and 56 in his second. In 2021-22, he was limited to 36 games because of an Achilles issue. With the Celtics, he suffered a partial tear of a tendon in his right shooting elbow that limited him and caused him to miss time in the playoffs. That injury also led the Clippers to nixing a trade for Brogdon ... which wound up being a godsend for the Sixers in dealing James Harden to L.A.
Brogdon has never been the most explosive guy and that laundry list of injuries doesn’t help. Brogdon was the player Harden targeted frequently during that series. His defense would be a big question mark heading into the postseason.
The good thing for the Sixers is that they wouldn’t be asking Brogdon to have a significant role, but it’s fair to wonder if a Maxey-Brogdon backcourt would be playoff-viable. While Brogdon would back up Maxey, the two would have to overlap. We all know how Nick Nurse uses his starters during the postseason. Maxey won’t see the bench much.
Patrick Beverley has also really steadied the ship as the team’s backup point guard recently. After a rough offensive start to the season, Pat Bev has settled in nicely. He’s shot 37.5% from three over his last 23 games. You can also see how much more organized the Sixers look with Beverley running the offense. When you factor in his defense, toughness and leadership, he’s providing the Sixers more of what they need.
The last concern is Brogdon’s contract. His cap number is $22.5 million this season and for 2024-25. That means you’re giving up Marcus Morris, Sr. and another smaller contract. Say what you want about Morris, but he’s providing shooting, size and toughness off the bench as well. He’s far from untouchable, but you’d like to use his $17.5 million cap hit for a better trade. And while Brogdon being on an expiring deal in 2024-25 could make him valuable in a trade during the summer, that aforementioned injury history already got one trade nixed. You run the risk of a similar situation popping up if you want to unload Brogdon.
This is similar to the Zach LaVine situation in that, in a vacuum, both players could make the Sixers better and fill certain holes. But their contracts and injury history give you trepidation.
With Beverley shoring up the backup ball handler role and the question marks surrounding Brogdon, the Sixers should look elsewhere.