Malcolm Brogdon plays like he is Paul Pierce’s shorter little brother.
That struck me initially – a surprise in and of itself considering how much basketball I watch and how often I’ve seen Pierce play – during the Christmas Day game between the Wizards and the Knicks. The similarities are all over the place.
A game defined more by angles than speed. A game more herky-jerky than smooth sailing. A jumper that appears a little flat, maybe even with a brief hitch-pause at the top … that goes in more than you think it should. Ball-handling that seems loose and turnover-prone … only it isn’t. Deceptive athleticism. High basketball IQ. Closer mentality.
In other words, they’ve both got ‘old man game’ on the basketball court. If you Google ‘Paul Pierce has old man game,’ there is no shortage of articles based on that very premise. The Boston Herald had one within the last month … even though Pierce now plays in Washington, not Boston. Back in November on the Dan Patrick Show, Pierce himself said that “I probably wouldn’t have got drafted” in the current NBA where he believes potential drives the draft board more than production.
At 6’7″, Pierce plays small forward in the NBA where he still regularly dupes younger and older players alike into fouls, bad angles, and unrecoverable defensive position even at 37 years old. Over his career, Pierce has averaged 21.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.8 turnovers. He’s shot 44% overall, 37% from 3-point range, and 80.7% from the free throw line. Stat stuffing consistency.
Based just on style of play, meanwhile, Brogdon could be his little brother. Or at least a cousin. Brogdon finds little seams and angles and positioning to make plays at the rim. His footwork allows him to beat defenders that are faster than him. He’s stronger than he looks too. Plus, he has great balance, an unnoticed part of old man game. Brogdon has added more step-back jumpers too and even gave a defender earlier this season the ol’ Paul Pierce shot fake and let you land on me move to get to the free throw line.
At 6’5″, Brogdon doesn’t play the same position and doesn’t post up as much as Pierce. But the numbers are similarly spread out too. Over his career, Brogdon has averaged 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.5 turnovers. He’s shot 41.6% overall, 34.5% from 3-point range, and 84.9% from the free throw line.
Brogdon got similar respect last season too as Virginia swept the ACC titles. He was voted first-team All-ACC by the coaches and second-team by the media. Pierce, of course, is a 10-time NBA All-Star among other accolades.
Don’t read all of this as some sort of NBA projection for Brogdon. Or even as a hype machine article about why Brogdon should be getting more recognition than he does. No, this is merely an observation column. It’s a way to say ‘It isn’t always pretty, but it’s effective’ and Hoos sure are glad Brogdon is on their team. Of course, that’s something NBA fans – especially in Boston – have been saying about Paul Pierce and his old man game for 17 years.
I suspect Virginia fans may visit memory lane with similar thoughts about Brogdon in the future.