For weeks, the Eric Bledsoe saga has captivated the NBA world.
Fans were firing up their trade machines and rumors were flying all around about what team would land the gifted combo guard from the desert. This morning, a deal was struck.
First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks agreed to terms on a trade to swap Bledsoe for Greg Monroe plus a 2018 lottery-protected first-round pick and a protected 2018 second-rounder.
As one of the clubs linked to Bledsoe as soon as it was announced he was on the trading block, first-year Bucks general manager Jon Horst acted quickly, making a bold move to give Giannis Antetokounmpo and company another elite running mate.
Milwaukee’s struggles on the boards have been costly, so the loss of Monroe hurts, but he hasn’t played since October 26 due to an ailing calf strain. Bledsoe doesn’t have the cleanest bill of health himself, but he’s plenty fresh and will likely be re-energized coming to one of the youngest and most promising squads in the league.
Outside of Antetokounmpo, Bledsoe will likely be playing alongside Malcolm Brogdon. Already showing strides in year two, the Bucks current starting point guard is curious to see how the two mesh in the backcourt when he arrives.
“You know at this point, you can’t be sure,” Brogdon told Basketball Insiders Tuesday of what the acquisition does for the team. “I think it’ll be a positive. Losing Moose [Monroe] is definitely a negative for us. He brought so much to the table for us, especially coming off the bench. He’s a starter that came off the bench.
“But you know, having another guard that can really create his own shot, get downhill and make plays—I think that will definitely help us.”
In the early stages of the season, Brogdon is in a great groove. He doesn’t foresee the trade affecting what he does on a nightly basis.
“For me, I just think it’s about me continuing to be aggressive, continuing to develop, continuing to get better,” he said. “And continuing to make sure that winning is the first [thing], is the goal for everybody.”
What could change, however, is Milwaukee’s style of play. Over the past couple of years, they’ve been a lengthy bunch, and they still are. But Brogdon told Basketball Insiders that we could be watching the Bucks play with more guard-heavy sets in small ball moving forward.
When asked if that fits his skill set, he immediately nodded his head in approval.
“We’re a defensive-minded team, but we want to be fast,” Brogdon told Basketball Insiders. “We want to play in the open court and we want to be very versatile and be able to defend multiple positions on defense. Having more guards and sort of mid-sized guys is gonna help us.”
For Milwaukee, it’s been a rough three-game losing skid after a promising start to the season. In that stretch, they’ve been the league’s the second-worst team in rebounding (35.7) and defensive rating (115.9).
In order to make sure this trend doesn’t continue, Brogdon told Basketball Insiders they need to key in on two things: Limiting corner threes and limiting second-chance opportunities off the glass.
Playing with Bledsoe and a talent like Antetokounmpo who “comes around once every generation,” there will be a lot of eyes on the Bucks. The attention is something that has been talked about before, but Brogdon believes he and his team will handle it well.
“People are watching us now,” Brogdon said. “We’re not sneaking up on anybody. We’re probably the youngest, most talented team in the NBA right now, so we have high expectations.
“I think the key for us is not to pay attention to those expectations and to come out every night and continue to try to achieve our goals.”
As the reigning Rookie of the Year, the 24-year-old has admittedly been enjoying what he’s seen from this year’s incredible class.
Focusing on himself, Brogdon has not suffered from any sophomore slump at all. In fact, he’s getting better at a lot of things. Through eight games this year, he has taken 35 total threes as opposed to just 14 in the same amount of time as a rookie.
“Repetition breeds confidence,” he said of the improvement. “That’s what I was about this summer. A lot of reps created a lot of confidence for me, so I’mma continue to shoot ‘em.”
Citing another comparison to last season, Brogdon only had two 20-point nights total over 75 games. He’s already matched that in the last two games consecutively. So what’s led to his newfound attacking nature?
“It’s something I’ve taken upon myself,” he said. “I think it’s me knowing coach Kidd, it’s knowing my teammates. I think that’s what the team needs from me this year. For us to take another level, one of the pieces is me being more aggressive so that’s what I’mma do.”
Being a surefire threat in this league now, Brogdon has also noticed that opponents are defending him a little more closely.
“They play me harder man,” he told Basketball Insiders. “They’re just more aggressive. I’m not sneaking up on anybody this year. Teams have a scouting report on me and my goal is to continue to improve and continue to show what I’ve worked on this summer.”
It seems that Brogdon’s plan is working, and he can get even better with a backcourt partner like Bledsoe.
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