Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon quietly playing MVP caliber basketball

Jan 9, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Malcolm Brogdon has been playing at an MVP type level for the Indiana Pacers to start the season as they continue climbing in the standings.

The Indiana Pacers are off to a fantastic 6-3 start this season and starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon has been a catalyst in their success early on.

Brogdon is averaging career-highs nearly all across the board, putting up 23.4 points on .497/.475/.893 shooting splits, 7.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in 37.4 minutes per game. The 28-year-old is the team’s leader in scoring and assists per contest, and he has been nothing short of phenomenal in nine games this season.

When it was announced that the Pacers would lose starter T.J. Warren just four games into the season to undergo foot surgery, Brogdon took it upon himself to step it up and keep this team afloat. Of course, Brogdon has not been the sole factor in Indiana’s early-season success, as teammates Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo have also stepped up mightily for the Pacers. Still, Brogdon has undoubtedly paved the way, setting new career-highs every other night and hitting overtime game-winners.

With Brogdon’s contributions leading the way, the Pacers sit in third place in the Eastern Conference standings. While it is far too early to make any real decisions on league MVP honors, Malcolm Brogdon has asserted himself in that conversation throughout the first few games this season. Would he be favored over the likes of Joel Embiid, LeBron James or Luka Doncic for league leaders? Likely not, but he is in the discussion nevertheless, and that is an achievement in its own right for the former 36th overall draft selection.

This high level of play was what Malcolm Brogdon envisioned when he signed with the Indiana Pacers two summers ago.

Malcolm Brogdon’s career started as a second-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016. The guard went onto win the prestigious Rookie of the Year award and showed significant potential for a team that was trending towards success.

However, when it came to Brogdon’s free agency in the summer of 2019, he had a difficult decision to make. Brogdon discussed how he would have loved to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks long-term, but he saw a perfect opportunity for a bigger role with the Indiana Pacers. Transcribed by ESPN’s Eric Woodyard:

"“That’s exactly what it is. It’s about a new opportunity, a new challenge,” Brogdon said of his desire for a bigger role. “Sort of being a leader of a team now is a totally different role, it’s a way bigger role for me, but it’s something I’ve been molded into and something I’ve prepared myself to do over the past three years.“This is, I think, something that every respected NBA player wants. They want a team that they can call theirs, they want a team that they can still win at a high level, but they have the ball more in their hands and they can control more of the game.”"

Now running the show, Malcolm Brogdon has been playing the best basketball of his career with a more prominent role on a playoff contender this season. Time will tell if he can sustain this breakout year he is putting together. If so, the Indiana Pacers could be a team to monitor in the Eastern Conference moving forward.

Next. Indiana Pacers: Why Victor Oladipo’s return has been a success. dark