In one of the harder-to-call award votes this year, Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. He appeared at Basketball City in New York to accept his award on Monday, just beating out a pair of Philadelphia 76ers rookies, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.
“I think it's an example for guys who are told they're too short, they're not athletic enough, they're not real point guards, they're not real shooting guards,” Brogdon said upon winning the award on TNT. “I just think it's an important message for people to see. That it can be done, that it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot of good decisions.”
The 24-year-old Brogdon averaged 10 points and four assists on 40 percent three-point shooting to help power the Bucks to a 42-40 record for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Those numbers improved after the All-Star break as he made his campaign for Rookie of the Year, averaging 12 points on 49 percent shooting, consistently supporting Giannis Antetokounmpo in the backcourt.
Brogdon shot 47.6 percent from downtown in the playoffs as Milwaukee pushed the Toronto Raptors in the first round before losing in six games.
Embiid was the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year before a meniscus tear required a season-ending surgery. In 31 games, the 76ers big man averaged 20 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks, shooting 36.7 percent from three. Embiid posted his incredible numbers on a minutes restriction, averaging only 25.4 minutes in his time on the floor.
After Embiid’s injury and the trade of Ersan Ilyasova, Saric came on as a force for the 76ers. He averaged 12.8 points but came alive after the trade deadline, leading Philly with 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
But it was Brogdon who came out on top in an unusually light Rookie of the Year race. Brogdon started only 28 of his 75 games, but the level-headed rookie, drafted No. 36 overall, still came out as the best one. The top pick, Ben Simmons, missed the whole year, most of the lottery picks underachieved, and the other two contenders for the award were from different drafts entirely. In another year, Brogdon wouldn’t have had a chance — but this year he did, and he’s your 2017 Rookie of the Year.