Brooklyn Nets: Why Bojan Bogdanovic Can Win Most Improved Player

Dec 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) is defended by Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott (3) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the 2016-17 NBA season, Bojan Bogdanovic could be a contender for Most Improved Player in the NBA. Here are five reasons why Brooklyn Nets sharp-shooter could win the award. 

After an impressive final month and run at the summer Olympics, Bojan Bogdanovic is ready to take his game to the next level for the Nets this season.

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The third-year Croatian took a big leap in his sophomore campaign with the Nets, and he could be ready for another leap this season.

Not only is Bogdanovic poised for a breakout season with the Nets, but he is arguably the best candidate on the Nets’ roster to win the NBA’s most improved player award. Here are five reasons why Bogdanovic could potentially win the award.

 

Oct 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) looks to pass the ball as Milwaukee Bucks forward Tony Snell (21) defends in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

He’s a bigger part of the Nets offense than he ever was

After two years of being a role player, this is Bogdanovic’s first opportunity to be a true contributor to the team.

Nets fans got a taste of what he could do during the preseason, as Bogdanovic shot an impressive 47.6 percent from three-point range in his five appearances.

Further, so far in the regular season, Bogdanovic is putting up 12.2 shots per game, which is good for third on the Nets (only .1 shot per game behind Sean Kilpatrick, who is second). Through six games, Bogdanovic has averaged 15.2 points per game, which also ranks third on the team.

While Bogdanovic is struggling a bit from three-point territory this season (33 percent), he’s still the Nets second-best statistical shooter from deep and he always remains a threat. He is currently shooting the three-ball a team-high six times a game on average, which is 1.7 more than he’s ever shot in his career. The beginning-of-the-season jitters should disappear soon, and then Bogdanovic will be back to his efficient shooting form.

The numbers don’t lie – Bogdanovic is playing a lot, and he’s also shooting a lot. Being that he ranks in the top-three for most shooting categories suggest that he is a large part of the Nets offensive game plan.

With 76 games left to play, Bogdanovic should see big improvements in both his shooting and his overall playmaking ability based on how important he is to the offense.

Jan 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) scores a lay-up against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Nets 112-100. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

He’s proved he can play, and he’s hitting his prime

If there’s a point in his career when Bogdanovic is going to have a career-year, this is the year.

Bogdanovic turns 28 in April, which is an age that is widely considered as an athlete’s prime. Further, this is Bogdanovic’s third season in the league, meaning he has a solid amount of experience and can take a mature step this season.

Everything adds up to Bogdanovic having the best season yet of his young career.

Bogdanovic teased Nets fans in the final month of last season and through the summer at the Olympics, when he put together a handful of impressive performances.

In the final 15 games of last season, Bogdanovic had five games of 20+ points, including a career-high 44-point effort. In the Olympics, Bogdanovic led all players in points per game, as he averaged an impressive 25.3 points per game. How impressive is that? Bogdanovic led all scorers in the Olympics in points per game. Also, his total points scored, 152, ranked third overall, behind Pau Gasol (156) and Kevin Durant (155).

These performances signify that Bogdanovic is finally starting to hit his stride in his career. If he can replicate these performances in the NBA season for the Nets, he will certainly be a valuable asset to the team.

 

Mar 24, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

He’s seeing increased minutes

A good way of seeing improvement in a player is to give them extra minutes. This season, Bogdanovic is sure to see those minutes added to his time. In his first six outings of the 2016-2017 season, not only have Bogdanovic’s minutes increased by 1.4 minutes per game, but he is the Nets leader in minutes per game. There has only been one game this season where Bogdanovic played less than 28 minutes.

After his rookie season with the Nets, Bogdanovic’s playing time increased by three minutes per game. That three-minute increase saw Bogdanovic improve his points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, free throw percentage, and three-point percentage in that next season.

With his minutes already increasing this season, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Bogdanovic improve in all of those statistical categories and more going forward.

The more playing time Bogdanovic sees on the court, the more he will develop, which in turn will be a cause for improvement. It appears as if Bogdanovic will hold his starting role in the team throughout the season barring injury, so expect to see some improved numbers from Bogdanovic as a result.

 

Oct 26, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) shoots against Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) and forward Jonas Jerebko (8) in the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Presence of Jeremy Lin will benefit him

The presence of a player like Jeremy Lin makes it much easier for a guy like Bogdanovic to improve and stand out. If Lin wasn’t on the team, there’s a good chance that a lot of the opposing defensive effort would be made to stop Bogdanovic, which would highly limit his upside.

Bogdanovic has never played with a point guard of the caliber of Lin’s, as the best he has played with is Jarrett Jack (Deron Williams was injured for the majority of the season they played together).

As a wingman, strong play from a point guard will highly benefit Bogdanovic. While he has been able to play with guys like Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, neither have as much of a positive impact as a point guard would.

Lin will be able to draw defenders, and can surely execute a nice drive-and-kick with Bogdanovic to open up a three-pointer for him.

As long as Bogdanovic and Lin can coexist with one another (as they have already), Lin will definitely help Bogdanovic improve.

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) looks to pass against Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) in the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Hornets win 99-95. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

He’s slowly becoming more consistent

One of Bogdanovic’s biggest flaws has always been his inconsistency. However, there are signs that he could be starting to turn it around, and if he does, he will be a much improved player.

Last season, Bogdanovic averaged a 20-point game every 11.4 games he played. In just six games this season, Bogdanovic already has two 20-point games.

Furthermore, in his run during the Olympics, Bogdanovic shot an impressive 50.6 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the arc. If he can put up these numbers during the season for the Nets, his scoring could erupt.

Of course, at the moment, Bogdanovic averages 33 percent from behind the arc and 15.2 points per game. If he can improve to 45 percent shooting like he did in Rio, his points per game average would be over 17 points per game. Again, while 45 percent may be a reach, Bogdanovic could improve this aspect of his game as the season goes on.

Out of all the five reasons why, this one may be the most important. Bogdanovic will certainly get the opportunities this season, and if he can put on a show as consistently as he did in Rio, he very well could be a contender for Most Improved Player in the NBA.

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