Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
The team’s new sixth man is already making an impact.
There have been a bunch of storylines to watch so far this preseason. Sam Hauser has been lighting it up from behind the arc, Noah Vonleh is making his case to be the Boston Celtics’ 14th man, and Jaylen Brown looks more ready than ever.
However, perhaps the most intriguing narrative has been Malcolm Brogdon’s seamless fit into Boston’s rotation. He’s looked great in his two preseason appearances, coming off the bench to provide a necessary spark that the Celtics were missing last season.
When he joined the team, there were some questions surrounding what his role would look like. And when it was announced that he’d be the team’s sixth man, some wondered whether or not he’d grow weary of coming off the bench. But in an interview with Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, he made one thing clear – he’s in Boston to win, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that.
“I wanted to send a message to the guys on this team that, regardless of what I was doing in Indiana, I’m willing to sacrifice to win,”
Brogdon has started every game he’s played in for the past four seasons, but it looks like that will change in Boston. Derrick White has occupied the starting lineup in each of the Celtics’ two preseason games in which the starters have played, while Brogdon has been one of the first off the bench.
The Celtics were just two games away from an NBA Championship last year before falling flat. They hadn’t lost two games in a row all postseason but fell to the Golden State Warriors in three-straight games, crumbling in the Finals.
It was a brutal ending to an impressive second-half run, but according to Brogdon, the Celtics are locked in. They’re focused on righting their wrongs from last year and finishing what they started.
“These guys are locked in. They know what they want. There’s one goal in mind and guys are just focused. When the guys are in the gym, there’s not a lot of joking, there’s not a lot of laughing. It’s a lot of what my vibe is — I’m all about business when I step in the gym. I consider myself between the lines as soon as I enter the facility every day. So I enjoy the vibe of that, it’s a very worksmanship approach. Guys are focused.”
This focus has translated to preseason success, too. When Boston’s starters have played, they’ve dominated. They beat the Charlotte Hornets by 41 points in their first preseason game and were up by 19 points against the Toronto Raptors when the deep bench guys took over. The Celtics’ backups even managed to pick up a win over Charlotte’s starters in their third game.
Brogdon’s been a large part of that success, too. He leads the Celtics in total assists (18) despite only having played in two of the three games. The veteran guard hasn’t shot the ball particularly well, but his playmaking has been instrumental to the success of the team, as he’s looked extremely comfortable leading the offense.
That’s exactly what the Celtics needed when they brought him in. A lack of playmaking hurt them in the Finals, and he’ll bring that to the table. He believes that he could be the missing piece to help push them over the top.
“I do. I think I can help them. I think what I bring to the team, this is something that the team is missing in some ways. But I think I can definitely help.
The 29-year-old has already developed a great connection with Hauser, shown the ability to run the offense on his own, and accepted his role as the team’s sixth man. Brogdon’s tenure in Boston is off to a rousing start.