As expected, Malcolm Brogdon came off the bench for the Celtics in Sunday’s 134-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets in the preseason opener. The bench role is new for Brogdon, who has started all 210 games that he has appeared in since 2018.
It was no secret Brogdon would be coming off the pine for the Celtics when he was traded to Boston in early July. With a starting backcourt consisting of 2021 Defensive Player of The Year Marcus Smart, as well as the two cornerstones of the Celtics’ franchise Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, coming off the bench was the only option for Brogdon, and that’s a role he was willing to accept.
Brogdon told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on “The Woj Pod” after the trade in July, that he and Brad Stevens had talked about him embracing the Sixth Man role. “If I wanted to come to Boston that would be one of the things I needed to embrace. I’ve made a lot of money, I’ve won a lot in Milwaukee, I’ve won some in Indiana, but I really want to get back to winning on a high level”, Brogdon said.
Thankfully for the Celtics, a player like Brogdon was exactly what they were looking for, and for Brogdon, a chance to win a title is exactly what the Celtics can provide him.
The Celtics’ bench was abysmal last season. In the regular season they ranked 26th in scoring and assists, and were dead last in rebounds. The playoffs weren’t any better. Out of 16 teams that made the playoffs, the Celtics ranked 14th in scoring, 11th in assists, and 15th in rebounds.
To give a little more perspective, the Celtics’ bench were outscored in three of their four playoff series. The one series they weren’t outscored in was against the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Celtics only outscored them by one point! The Celtics finished with 153 points off the bench, to Milwaulkee’s 152. Altogether, the Celtics’ bench was outscored by 122 points (663-541) in the 2022 playoffs.
A word we heard floating around following the Celtics’ loss in the Finals was “Fatigue”. A major contributor to the Celtics’ fatigue problem was their lack of a serviceable bench, which forced the starters to play an average of almost 35 minutes a game. In the 2022 playoffs, Celtics starters played a total of 839 minutes, compared to the Warriors’ 695 minutes, and the Celtics only played in 2 more games than the Warriors did.
Brogdon is exactly the boost this Celtics’ bench needs. Someone they can rely on to make shots as well as create scoring opportunities for his teammates, and we got a glimpse of that on Sunday.
In 24 minutes, Brogdon posted a team-high nine assists, grabbed five rebounds, and scored 11 points as the Celtics’ outscored the Hornets by 18 points with Brogdon on the floor. Brogdon’s unselfish play was also on display as he attempted just 3 shots from the field in the first half, while dishing out 6 assists.
It’s only preseason, but if Sunday was any indication of what’s to come, the Celtics should see major improvement from their bench.
Brogdon received high praise from teammate Jaylen Brown following his impressive debut. “Malcolm is really good at basketball," Brown said. "I think that’s an obvious one… He’s going to make us better overall. He’s more than capable of being a go-to player in this league”.
The “Go-to player” Jaylen references that Brogdon can be is exactly what the Celtics’ bench has been lacking in past postseason runs. Having a go-to guy off the bench in today’s NBA is crucial, and Brogdon appears to be the perfect fit to fill that massive void.