Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon Needs his Groove Back

Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers have not been playing their best ball since February started, and the struggles of Malcolm Brogdon go back even further.

At the beginning of the season, Malcolm Brogdon was a revelation. He was everything the Indiana Pacers could have dreamed when they traded for him over the summer: an efficient scorer, a great facilitator, and the point of attack on defense. His 3-point percentage had dipped from last season, but that was chalked up as coming with the increased offensive workload.

Recently, things have changed. Injuries have already started building up, already four stretches this season missing at least back-to-back games. Since the most recent two-game absence, Brogdon’s 3-point shooting has fallen off a cliff (22.7 percent over the last nine games). This stretch also coincides with the return of Victor Oladipo, the player many believed he would be the compliment for.

It is an incredibly small sample size, but the signs have not been good. If the six games from before the most recent injury were included, the numbers don’t improve much. Over 15 games, he’s averaging 14.3 points on 41.2/28.4/81.6 shooting splits and the Pacers were actually outscored while he was on the court despite going 9-6 during the stretch.

These struggles have made the reacclimation of Oladipo that much harder. If the Brogdon had continued the strong start to his Pacer career that had put him in All-Star consideration (19 points and 7.7 assists per game on 47.3/34.6/93.2 splits over the first 19 games), there would have been less pressure for Oladipo to perform right away.

The struggles of both continued last night against the New York Knicks. They combined for 7-22 from the field and 1-8 from deep. Neither could get anything going against the Knicks’ 22nd ranked defense.  Many of the long-range looks came off flat and even more clanged off in an unsightly manner. Luckily, Domantas Sabonis turned in an All-Star performance and T.J. Warren handed out another one of his big scoring nights.

This won’t always be the case. Especially against the top teams in either conference.

With 26 games remaining, the Pacers have 14 matchups with current playoff teams. Those games have to be the measuring stick for Indiana’s guard duo. No matter how the standings end up shaking out, the Pacers will face at least one All-Star caliber guard in the opening round. They need to be able to match the output of those players or be bounced in the first round for the fifth consecutive season.

Next. Rebounding and Defense a Major Concern. dark

Could the Pacers win games in Boston Garden getting 19 combined points from their starting guards? Probably not. In Scotiabank Arena in Toronto or AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami? The answer remains the same. Sabonis gives the Pacers a high floor, but the ceiling will be decided by whether Brogdon finds his groove next to his new feathery partner.