The Milwaukee Bucks have lost one of their most underrated and steadiest pieces in shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon.
The third-year pro and 2016 second round pick has an injured right foot and is expected to be out for the next several weeks according to an ESPN report.
Brogdon, the former Virginia standout who has started all 64 games this season, is averaging a career-high 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 28.6 minutes per game.
Shooting 50.5 percent from the field, including 42.6 percent on 3-pointers, and 92.8 percent from the free throw line, Brogdon became the eighth player in NBA history to surpass the 50-40-90 mark. The others are Larry Brid, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Price and AJ English. Nash and Bird are the only players to do it two or more times.
Injuries Piling up for Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are having other injury issues as well, with star big man Giannis Antetokounmpo having missed two games and recently signed center Pau Gasol expected to miss a month with a left ankle injury, according to an ESPN report. Forward Nikola Mirotic (thumb) also might miss a month.
Brogdon has made strides after starting only 48 games across his first two NBA seasons, and the Bucks are going to miss his calmness in the backcourt. Milwaukee is first in the Eastern Conference and in the league at 55-19 and has clinched the Central Division.
With eight games left in the regular season, the Bucks have a substantial four game-lead for the top seed in the East over Toronto.
MVP candidate Antetokounmpo is averaging a whopping 27.4 ppg and 12.6 rpg while Khris Middleton (17.8 ppg) and Eric Bledsoe (15.7) have been standouts all season. But with Brogdon on the sidelines, the guard play will drop off. Milwaukee has Pat Connaughton (6.3 ppg) and George Hill (7.0) as the next best options.
The Bucks will rely on Hill, a veteran who has done it before. The Bucks acquired him in a three-team deal on Dec. 7 and he has 17 and eight points in his past two games.
NBA Playoffs Ahead for Bucks
Getting a healthy Brogdon back will be crucial considering the Bucks will likely face Indiana or Boston in Round 2, assuming they don’t stumble in the first round. Milwaukee also might have to deal with a deep and athletic Philadelphia team moving forward.
Brogdon, 26, was the 2017 NBA Rookie of The Year. The steady combo guard can play tough on both ends of the floor.
Most impressively, Brogdon has turned the ball over just 1.4 times per game, one of the lowest marks for a point guard who plays nearly 30 minutes per game. He takes a ton of the pressure off Bledsoe, who is a liability on defense with his smaller stature.
The Bucks are still the NBA betting favorites to come out of the East. Milwaukee holds +200 odds to win the conference over Toronto (+210) and Philadelphia (+250), per the top bookmakers.
However, if Milwaukee stumbles after the first round, Brogdon’s absence will be a key factor. He’s scheduled to return in the second round of the playoffs, but the Bucks will need him at 100 percent since it is a tricky injury.
His role on the team is more important than many outsiders know.