Malcolm Brogdon — The first non-first-round pick to win NBA Rookie of the Year and the only player in Bucks history to win the award, other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And, he EXCLUSIVELY revealed what’s yet to come, and we should all be very scared.
Malcolm Brogdon, 24, is the ultimate NBA rookie fairytale. He’s also a prime example of why draft ranking doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a legend in the game. Brogdon, a second round pick [36th overall] from Virginia, played in 75 games, with 28 starts, during a phenomenal rookie reason with the Milwaukee Bucks. He put up stellar numbers despite anyone who’s doubted him or given him flack for completing his college career before entering the 2016 draft; a decision he later told me, shaped who he is, both on and off the court.
After winning Rookie of the Year at the 2017 NBA Awards, and joining Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the only player[s] in Bucks team history to win the award, Brogdon’s not even close to being finished with writing his legacy. In fact, he’s just getting started. Some have labeled him as an afterthought. When the Bucks took him in the second round of the 2016 draft, no one knew what kind of impact he would really have; that is, until he ended the season with 10.2 points, 4.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, AND shot 45.7 percent from the field, 40.4 percent from three-point range and 86.5 percent from the free-throw line, and then some… try saying that in one breathe.
To begin, when I spoke with Brogdon, he was in Taiwan, fresh off his ROTY win. He was there to celebrate the Finals of 2017 Cathay NBA Youth Madness; a university-based 3-on-3 basketball tournament. While there, Brogdon told me that he enjoyed sightseeing, spent time with his Taiwanese fans and indulged in the most delicious treats. “They took great care of me [in Taiwan],” he said. “I interacted with a lot of people and a lot of fans.” And, he loved the NBA Cares activities!
Point blank — Brogdon’s a very special player. He has a reputation in interviews of exuding pure intelligence and exquisite maturity, so you can understand why I brought my NBA Finals A-game to our EXCLUSIVE interview. And, he did not disappoint.
How did it feel to win ROTY?
It felt so good. So much hard work and I felt like it paid off. Then, coming to China, and Asia and Taiwan, a country I’ve never been, it’s just been a whirlwind, but it’s great. My mom and brothers made me feel incredible [after winning ROTY]. They, especially my brothers, are always there supporting me. I have one brother that I talk to after every single game and right after I won, I went to the lobby and called them because they weren’t able to make it. I went and had a conversation with them and they were extremely proud because they’ve been there every step of the way and they’ve seen the work I’ve put in. They’ve helped me to be able to get to this moment and I wanted to share that accomplishment with them.
After your recent accolades and praise, how do you keep your head in the game at all times, in terms of staying humble?
I think it’s about keeping good people around you. I have a family that always hold me accountable and continues to check me no matter what awards or how many I’ve won, no matter how much money I have — None of that really matters. It’s about who you are as a person and your character. I keep that close to my heart and I take it one step at a time.
In a pool of talented guards, what do you think separates you from the others, both on and off the court?
I think it’s my hard work, sacrifice and confidence. I think I’m a guy that believes in myself more than everybody else does. I think there have been a lot of people who told me I wouldn’t do things. And, I worked and worked and worked, and continued to believe in myself to pass everybody around me. I’ve always tried as much as I could to control my environment around me; to have good people that encourage me and support me, but people who also hold me accountable. And, I think all of that is a recipe for success. I’ve also been greatly blessed and I’ve been through adversity in college and other things like that. It’s made me stronger. And, the adversity that I’ve faced in the NBA and the past few years, I’ve been able to battle through.
Your coach, Jason Kidd has said that although you’re technically categorized as a rookie, you’re not really a rookie because you just get the game and understand it — As a seasoned veteran himself, what do those words and his compliments mean to you?
He’s someone that’s at the highest level; he’s won a championship, he holds records in the NBA; he’s one of the greatest of this game. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s what I call my vet. I just listen to him and he gives a lot of good advice. He sort of helps me keep steady through my ups and downs, especially through my rookie season. He’s huge for me, and I hope that he will be huge for me going forward.
[Just so you guys can take it all in] — “Malcolm worked tirelessly to improve his game and became a valuable contributor,” Bucks Head, Coach Jason Kidd, said about Brogdon’s ROTY win. “In fact, he was so reliable it was easy to forget that he was a rookie. Malcolm has a boundless future and we want to congratulate him on winning this well-earned award.”
How are you preparing for the next season to come back on another level?
You’ve got to work harder and you’ve got to continue to outwork everyone around you. Now, I’ve got to work smarter and harder. I’m tightening up different elements of my game. I’m going to come in [to the next season] and cut a bit of weight off, and be a little bit lighter. I’m going to be in better shape. But, I’m also going to make sure my body’s rested. I want to be in perfect shape when I get back. I’m going to continue to sharpen everything. I’m the type of guy that’s always worked on my versatility. I don’t try to limit myself to just one category of my game. So I’ll come back and have improved on everything.
Do you think completing your 5 years in college, as opposed to most players who enter the draft at age 19, has given you an edge? Do you think it’s contributed to your game and maturity level, both on and off the court?
Definitely. I think everybody’s situation is different. I think some guys should and need to come out their freshman and sophomore year, but I think it would help a lot of guys if they stayed [in college] and matured, developed their character and developed who they are to create a good foundation and identity for the NBA. And, I think that’s what I had and why I was able to withstand ups and downs, entering the NBA. Everybody’s rookie season is tough and I think the guys that have the most mental fortitude and the strongest mindset and mental toughness, I think those are the rookies that end up prevailing. [Literally felt like I was able to conquer the world after listening to that…]
What do you want to do to benefit your team next season?
I’m not going to focus on living up to anything or the ROTY Award, because that’s where I think guys go wrong. They end up sort of falling on their face. I think it’s about being willing to focus on the right things and winning games, playing the best role on your team that you can and always playing to the fullest. At the end of last year, I became the start of the point guard position and I’ll try to keep that and keep improving. I think it’s about helping guys like Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Jabari [Parker], Khris [Middleton] and just being able to knock down shots more consistently; being able to play at a higher level and make good decisions and make the game easier for them, whether that’s getting them open shots or being in the lane. I just want to make the game easier for my teammates, so I’ll continue to that going into next season, at a higher level.
What would you say to your teammates, now, after your ROTY win?
I would just say thank you. ROTY [to me] isn’t an individual award; it’s a team award. You can’t win that without every teammate that helps you on the floor. To be ROTY, you have to have that type of team that totally embraces what you bring to the table and and tries to include you in everything that they do; and I have that. I have guys on my team that help me and show me the way, that give me good advice on and off the court and I just want to say thank you to all of them. Everybody has played a role and everybody has helped me this year.
What’s your pre/post game style — Do you focus on that?
I’ve started toward the middle and end of the season. I was dressing more serious toward the end of the season. As a rookie, you learn so many things and you learn that your appearance is everything. It’s important to dress well. I keep everything very simple and classy. I like to have a button-down on, maybe a bomber jacket and either some khakis or jeans.
Do you have any post/pre-game rituals?
When I shoot during the season [before games] or every time I work out, I usually have to make two shots in a row and they have to be long three’s. And, they have to be swishes; I don’t like when they hit the rim. It’s like a mental trap in my head. I just have to have the perfect shot.
HollywoodLifers, what shocked you the most about Brogdon?