What the Celtics have in Malcolm Brogdon is absolutely unfair.
Think about this. Boston was without two-time All-Star guard Jaylen Brown in Charlotte on Saturday night and then lost Brown’s replacement in the starting lineup, superstar forward Derrick White, just four minutes into the game.
And where did the Celtics turn from there? Oh, only for a guy who posted a 50/40/90 season and who averaged more than 20 points per game over the past two seasons combined.
And what did that guy do on Saturday night? Oh, he just scored 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting, which included four shots from beyond the arc and five more at the rim.
Teams shouldn’t be allowed to have that kind of depth. Yet here we are in 2023, and Boston certainly has.
That’s thanks to what many consider the smartest move of the offseason, when Brad Stevens acquired Brogdon from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for a slew of players led by Aaron Nesmith and a future first-round draft pick.
Stevens’ move gave the Celtics everything they needed to reach new heights: an additional playmaker, an established shooter, another versatile defender and, perhaps most importantly, unrivaled depth. Brogdon filled all those holes at the highest levels this season, making him one of the club’s frontrunners for Sixth Man of the Year honors.
Brogdon has been exceptional across the board this season outside of a brief two-week stretch from mid-December to January 1st. He is now averaging 14.1 points per game in just 23.7 minutes per contest off the bench. That’s an average of 21.4 points per 36 minutes, which ranks 9th in the league among reserves. Remarkably, he is one of five members of that group to play on a winning team, and he does so not only a winning team; he does it for that the most victorious team, all while taking a backseat to the league’s top two scorers in Brown and Jayson Tatum.
It should also be noted that Brogdon has shot the ball at such a high level this season that he has a legitimate shot at recording his second 50/40/90 shooting season. He is shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 45.2 percent from long range and 89 percent from free throws.
If Brogdon completes the 50/40/90 mark, he will become just the third player in NBA history to record multiple seasons, joining Larry Bird and Steve Nash.
What’s most remarkable about Brogdon’s incredible season is that he’s recording it while playing an entirely new role. Prior to joining the Celtics, he was a full-time starter for the last four-plus seasons and was the team’s offensive player for most of those seasons.
It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a player of Brogdon’s caliber come off the bench. Teams shouldn’t be able to lose a top-15 scorer, then an all-defensive player who shoots 37 percent from the floor, and just carry on like nothing happened.
The Celtics were able to do that Saturday night, and Brogdon is the reason why.