Celtics

Celtics player spotlight: How will Malcolm Brogdon fit with Boston?

Celtics

Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics wasted no time addressing a need this offseason.

On July 1, the C's acquired point guard Malcolm Brogdon in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. They sent five players and their 2023 first-round draft pick to Indiana in an effort to bolster their backcourt depth.

Offseason spotlights: Jayson Tatum | Al Horford | Jaylen Brown | Robert Williams | Marcus Smart

Brogdon is expected to take the sixth-man role while Marcus Smart continues as the team's full-time starting point guard. Derrick White and Payton Pritchard also remain on the depth chart as point guard options off the bench.

It'll be an adjustment for Brogdon, who has started every game he's played in since the 2018-19 campaign. The 29-year-old says he'll embrace the new role, but whether or not he and Smart can coexist is a hot topic heading into his first season with Boston. And that isn't the only question mark that comes along with the Brogdon acquisition.

We continue our Celtics player spotlight series by looking back on Brogdon's accomplishments with the Pacers last season and how he can make Boston a title contender again in 2022-23.

Brogdon's 2021-22 stats

  • Regular season: 19.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 44.8 percent FG, 31.2 percent 3PT (36 games with IND)
  • Postseason: N/A

Brogdon's contract situation

Brogdon is set to make $22.6 million in 2022-23 after signing a four-year, $85 million contract extension with the Indiana Pacers last October. He is under contract with Boston through the 2024-25 season.

 

What role will Brogdon play on the 2022-23 Celtics?

For now, the plan is to have Brogdon come off the bench while Smart remains as the starting point guard.

We can expect the Celtics to play that situation by ear as the season goes on. If Smart struggles to duplicate his 2021-22 success, head coach Ime Udoka might be tempted to get Brogdon -- the better offensive player -- into the starting lineup.

Celtics Talk: Meet the new guys: Exclusive interviews with Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari (and Brad Stevens) | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Even as the sixth-man, Brogdon should get his fair share of minutes. He'll play a significant part in what the Celtics hope to accomplish offensively. If they need buckets in crunch time, Udoka likely will roll with Brogdon over Smart as the primary ball-handler. If they're trying to hold onto a lead, they'll likely roll with the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year.

Brogdon's season will be a success if ...

... He embraces the sixth-man role.

Brogdon coming off the bench might be best for all parties involved. He's struggled to stay healthy for most of his NBA career, so it makes sense to limit his minutes so he can stay on the court for the entire season, something he hasn't accomplished since his Rookie of the Year campaign.

Getting Brogdon and Smart to complement one another will be key to Boston's success. Things could go sideways in a hurry if either point guard takes issue with their playing time. Fortunately for the Celtics, both players seem open-minded heading into their first year as teammates.

Biggest obstacle to Brogdon's success

Staying healthy.

Brogdon has been unable to stay on the court for five of his six seasons in the league. He played in only 36 games for the Pacers last season due to Achilles and hamstring injuries. He hasn't played more than 60 games in a season since 2018-19 when he played in 64.

In his two seasons with more than 60 games played, Brogdon averaged less than 30 minutes per game. That undoubtedly factored into the Celtics' decision to have him come off the bench.

Projected stats and prediction for Brogdon's 2022-23 season

Projected stats: 16.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 44.5 percent FG, 37 percent 3PT (60 games)

Assuming Brogdon's minutes take a hit with Smart as the starter, so will his numbers. But that doesn't mean Brogdon will fail to make a major impact in his first season with the Celtics. In fact, he might be even more efficient than he was as the starting point guard for Indiana and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Expect Brogdon to provide a significant spark off the bench and when he fills in for Smart in the starting lineup. He's a difference-maker offensively, something the Celtics second-unit desperately needed during its 2022 playoff run. Fans expect Brogdon to be the missing piece of the puzzle, and it isn't difficult to see why.