Giannis Antetokounmpo and Malcolm Brogdon developed a strong bond as teammates on the Milwaukee Bucks over three seasons before the latter joined the Indiana Pacers in a sign-and-trade this past summer.
In their first campaign apart, Brogdon has shown improvements across the board with strong averages of 20.7 points, 8.5 assists, and 5.2 rebounds. He also ranks sixth league-wide with 17.9 drives per game and has played a leading role for the 7-4 Pacers.
Ahead of Antetokounmpo's first game against his former teammate on Saturday in Indiana, the reigning NBA MVP couldn't help but ponder what could've been if Brogdon had stayed in Wisconsin.
"Can you imagine this team with also Malcolm?" Antetokounmpo said Thursday after Milwaukee improved to 8-3 on the season, according to The Athletic's Eric Nehm. "But hey ... his decision was to go to Indiana and build a team over there. I think that was best for him."
Brogdon inked a four-year, $85-million contract with Indiana as part of the sign-and-trade, but he was a restricted free agent and the Bucks could have matched any offer in order to keep him. In the end, his departure was a blow to a Milwaukee team that reached the Eastern Conference finals last season.
"Definitely wish he was still here," Antetokoumpo added. "One of my friends, one of the guys that I always teased every day when I see him ... I'm going to miss that, but at the end of the day, you got to do what's best for you. I wish him the best."
As for Brogdon, he embraced his change of scenery from Day 1.
"I was happy, honestly," Brogdon said. "It's a great move for me. It’s a great spot for me. Milwaukee served me best while I was there, but it was time for me to move on."