Dec 3, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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Coming into this season, Bojan Bogdanovic had a prime opportunity to breakout and become a legitimate starter with the Brooklyn Nets. He has yet to do so, which is one reason why he should be dealt at the deadline.
Bojan Bogdanovic was drafted with the 31st pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. After almost signing with the infamous Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett Nets squad in the summer of 2013 for the mini-MLE, he finally decided to come over to the United States in 2014. On July 22, 2014, Bogdanovic finally signed three-year, $10 million deal with Brooklyn leaving his former team, Fenerbahce Ulker.
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He was a bit shaky, to say the least, in his first months with the Nets. However, the 6’8″ wing was able to overcome these challenges after finding after several months of experience playing in the best league in the world. By the end of the 2014-2015 season, he had won a Rookie of the Month award, and was named to the All-Rookie Second Team.
The next season, increased playing time and a part-time starting role slightly increased Bogdanovic’s confidence. He began to look like a bright spot on a subpar Nets team who had little to look forward to in the years to come.
Having taken the leap from role player, to part-time starter from year one to year two led many to believe that Bogdanovic would be primed to take the next step in year three.
Going into the 2016-2017 season, he was coming off a busy summer in which he averaged 25.3 points per game for the Croatian National Team at the Rio Summer Olympics.
With the subtraction of ball stoppers such as Wayne Ellington and Joe Johnson, all signs pointed to Bogdanovic having a breakthrough season. Ample scoring opportunities combined with a new coach who preached three-point shooting should’ve easily amounted to 17+ points per game.
To put it simply, Bogdanovic has not been an alpha dog for the Nets this season. While he is not having a Travis Outlaw circa 2011 kind of bad season, he has failed to show enough to justify a large contract this summer.
In order to not be caught in a predicament of overpaying or losing Bogdanovic for nothing this offseason, the Nets must be proactive in trading him.
Jan 6, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Cleveland Cavaliers won 116-108. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Failure to Break Out
Coming into this season with leadership experience, in addition to playing within a Kenny Atkinson system that relies heavily on shooting led many to believe that Bogdanovic would have no issue being a go-to wing scorer. Despite this assumption, Bogdanovic has not been a reliable offensive weapon. Instead, he has remained an inconsistent third option on a Nets team that desperately needs a trustworthy creator on the perimeter.
Simply looking at his game log can provide an accurate picture of his play this season. He has shown flashes of brilliancy for a stretch of games in which he appears to have a distinct high level of confidence. In other stretches, he has shot 1-7 from the field, and 0-4 from behind the arc on a nightly basis. This inconsistency simply doesn’t justify starter level money longterm.
While Bogdanovic has improved in a few statistical categories, a deeper dive into his numbers show that he has had more than enough of an opportunity to take a leap this season.
As previously mentioned, in Atkinson’s three-point centric offense, Bogdanovic should be attempting a large number of threes on a nightly basis. The Nets are currently shooting 32.6 threes per game which stands at fourth in the NBA. Bogdanovic is only shooting 4.9 of these per contest. That is only 15 percent of the Nets overall three pointers shot per contest. An elite shooter, such as Wesley Matthews shoots 24.5 percent of his team’s threes and is widely known as a starting caliber player who can dominate from the perimeter.
This demonstrates that he is incapable of taking charge to prove that he is the most reliable three-point shooter on the Nets’ roster. He should’ve easily been putting up six threes a game; especially on a Brooklyn squad that would welcome a shooter who culminates a prototypical Atkinson type player. Even if Bogdanovic failed to find success with this strategy every game, it would have at the very least shown that he posses a high level of confidence that is essential for premier NBA shooters to have.
Bogdanovic has had his share of opportunities to justify a large extension this offseason. His usage percentage sits at a rate of 22.2 percent. This percentage presents more than enough of an opportunity to develop into a well-rounded wing. Player’s with similar usage percentages include, Hassan Whiteside (22.8 percent), Avery Bradley (22.4 percent), Zach LaVine (21.7 percent) and Nicolas Batum (21.4 percent). Each of these players were able to make the most their opportunities to become above average starters for their respective teams.
The frustrating aspect of this is that he is more than capable of being a leader on and off the court. Nets fans only see this side of him once in a blue moon during games, yet he came out and was absolutely dominate on a nightly basis for his home country in the Olympics. Every time he stepped on the court donning the red and white, he gave off a distinct aura of confidence. Bogdanovic had a killer instinct that is very rarely seen in his time with the Nets.
One conclusion that can be drawn from the first 49 games of the 2016-2017 Brooklyn Nets season is that Bogdanovic does not appear to be a first, second, third or even a fourth scoring option on a competent NBA team. If he is incapable of taking charge on a team with the little amount of talent that the Nets have, then he likely will never be a consistent offensive force.
Dec 28, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps the biggest reason Bogdanovic should be a first priority to be moved this February is his contract situation. He is set to become a restricted free agent this summer after his three year, $10 million contract expires.
The main question going into this summer will be, how much money will Bogdanovic demand? While he is certainly not worth max-level money, his stretches of hot shooting will no doubt attract interest. Look no farther than his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, for a potential answer to the amount of money the 216-pound forward’s next contract will amount to.
With the exponentially growing cap, Bogdanovic could easily demand an annual salary of $12-15 million. He is a restricted free agent, meaning that the Nets have the option to match any offer sheet Bogdanovic signs with another team.
Marks offered large offer sheets to both Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe last summer, knowing he had to offer an inflated deal to scare away their respective clubs. Crabbe garnered an eye-popping four year, $75 million-dollar offer sheet while Johnson received a four year, $50 million offer (both were matched). Both of these wings had less on court experience, and have shown less overall than Bogdanovic at the time of receiving those offer sheets.
A team would likely take a chance on Bogdanovic this summer. It remains to be seen if he’ll garner as much as Crabbe or Johnson, who were both 24 as restricted free agents, whereas Bogdanovic will be 28.
Brooklyn is stuck with three options pertaining to Bogdanovic: overpay, trade, or lose him for nothing. While there is no guarantee that he will command a large offer sheet this summer, the Nets would be taking a big risk by holding on to him past the trade deadline. In order to completely avoid the decision of having to overpay, or lose Bogdanvoic for no return this summer, a trade should be imminent. Given his age and spotty play this season, the Nets are clearly not trading away a player who is destined to have a big effect on the organization’s long term success.
Dec 8, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
He Could be a Commodity for Another Team
Even though he is not a necessity for what the Nets are doing currently, Bogdanovic could fit very well on another squad. He would fit very well in a condensed role on a playoff team.
There are several teams that could certainly use a spot up shooter with size to come off their bench. The Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons are all in need of another three-point shooting threat. Each of these teams are also in grave need of spacing to open up driving lanes for their ball handlers.
In a very specific role playing limited minutes for a playoff team, Bogdanovic could prove to be a very efficient player. He has already shown that he can thrive as fourth option offensively in a playoff series. The 27-year-old swingman played very well in the Nets’ two playoff wins against the Hawks in the 2014 playoffs, as he shot 6-12 and 7-13 from the field in games three and four respectively. If his confidence is thriving in a playoff game, Bogdanovic could have a Ben Gordon circa 2009 Playoffs type game for another squad.
The Nets should strive to get any value they can for the three-year veteran. As I mentioned in the January NBN Roundtable, KJ McDaniels is festering on the Rockets bench and is need a of a new home where he could log some minutes. Other targets should include, Reggie Bullock, Josh Huestis or Isaiah Canaan.