Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

He’s not really a rookie. After playing for years overseas, Bogdan Bogdanovic has proven very quickly that he is an NBA player. Midway through his first season in the league, the 25-year-old Serb is finding his stride. 

From the moment he stepped on the floor in Sacramento, Bogdanovic showed flashes of something special. You could see early on that he was trying to fit in and make nice with his teammates, but the honeymoon phase is over. Bogdanovic is no longer holding back.

For the third time in the new calendar year, Bogdanovic set a career-high in scoring on Wednesday evening. He dropped in 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from long range. 

“I’ve said it all year, he’s not really a rookie, he’s been playing pro ball for so many years,” De’Aaron Fox said of his backcourt mate. “He definitely doesn’t play like a rookie. He brings the intelligence, the savvy, the shooting - defensively, he gets after it. He’s able to do everything for us.” 

He’s pushed his season numbers up to 11.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. Bogdanovic has also raised his shooting percentages drastically as the season has progressed, knocking down 48.8 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. 

In eight games in January, Bogdanovic has taken his game to another level. He’s hit the opposition for 16.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 30.6 minutes a game. Dave Joerger has come to rely on the former Fenerbahce star, even giving him starts in the last two games since the youth movement was officially put into motion.

“I’m working every single day as hard as I can, I’m trying to be the best version of (myself).” Bogdanovic said following the team’s loss to Utah on Wednesday.

It’s a small sample size, but Bogdanovic’s shooting numbers in 2018 are off the charts. He’s hitting 54.8 percent from the floor, a stunning 58.3 percent on the 3-ball and 92.3 percent from the line.

With All-Star weekend on the horizon, Bogdanovic has likely earned his way into an invitation for the Rising Stars Challenge. Amongst rookies, he’s currently seventh in scoring, fourth in 3-point percentage, eighth in field goal percentage and sixth in steals. 

Sacramento’s 2017-18 season is about sifting through the young players and figuring out what they have. It appears the Kings have found a keeper in Bogdanovic. 

Frustrations seen front and center in Kings' losing streak, 'enough is enough'

Frustrations seen front and center in Kings' losing streak, 'enough is enough'

Slow starts have plagued the Sacramento Kings all season long. The issue reared its ugly head again Saturday afternoon as the Kings dropped their fourth straight game. 

“Being a noon game, the first person with the most energy is probably going to win the game,” Willie Cauley-Stein said following the lopsided 126-105 loss. “Our energy didn’t really come til the second half through. They already got us in a hole.”

After scoring the first two buckets of the contest, Sacramento yielded a 12-0 run to the Clippers. They attempted to play catch up the rest of the afternoon with no luck. 

Thursday following the Kings loss to the Clippers, rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic sounded off on the issue. 

“Everytime, same mistakes,” Bogdanovic said. “We really need to work on video first of all, preparation for a game as well. We can’t let those teams have a 10-point or more advantage. It’s really hard to trail them the whole game.”

“Whoever starts, we start slow. That’s about team, inside, not about personnel. I think as a team, we’ve got to just start better and be more hyped," Bogdanovic added about the slow starts.

Bogdanovic has played years overseas and the issue of energy seems to perplex the 25-year-old Serbian wing. You can see the frustration on his face. It’s the same look that some of his teammates have shown, both veterans and young players.

Some of the young guys are grasping at straws for answers. De’Aaron Fox is one of the fastest players in the league and he’s in the starting unit that’s struggling to show energy to start ball games.

“We just have to play with pace and sometimes when a team comes out and shoots the ball they were doing today, it was kind of difficult to bring that energy,” Fox told reporters following the loss. 

The team isn’t pointing fingers at anyone but themselves. They’ve stayed together, but the current spiral is starting to get out of control. 

“It’s got to come from us, but it’s got to come from us holding each other accountable,” Cauley-Stein said. “Like, enough is enough. I think coach is at that point where, you know, he’s just not going to play you if you're not doing the right things and I think that’s how it should be.”

Dave Joerger has tried countless lineups this season to find a group that starts the game the right way. It might be time for him to try moving a veteran or two out of the starting group to see if the dynamic changes.

The Kings have lost four straight and nine of their last 11 games. They currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and they play seven of their next eight games on the road, beginning on the road Monday evening in Oklahoma City. 

Popovich effusive in praise of Kings rookie


Popovich effusive in praise of Kings rookie

SACRAMENTO -- The San Antonio Spurs are a model professional franchise. For nearly four decades, they have set the NBA standard of excellence and they are well on their way to another season of playoff basketball.

The Sacramento Kings would love to emulate the San Antonio’s run of success. They have gone as far as to bring in former Spurs players Garrett Temple and George Hill to help build a new foundation.

While the core of San Antonio's dynasty began with top picks David Robinson and Tim Duncan, the Spurs have mined the world for talent and more often than not, come up with diamonds.

Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen and Kawhi Leonard are only a few of the pieces the Spurs have discovered as they prolonged their stretch of greatness. They’ve drafted star level players, but they’ve also created them with a system of stability and development.

Listening to head coach Gregg Popovich in pregame of the Kings/Spurs matchup Monday evening, the future Hall of Fame coach spoke glowingly of one of Sacramento’s young players. It was almost as if he was reciting a scouting pre-draft scouting report.

“He’s a pretty good enough athlete, but he’s a fantastic basketball player,” Popovich said of Kings rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic. “He really understands innately how to play the game. He’s just built for it mentally, whether it’s shooting the ball or understanding spatial arrangements on the court, who he’s playing with, what shot’s good, what shot’s not, how to play with his teammates. He’s really got a high basketball IQ. On top of that, he’s got good skills. He handles the ball, he passes, he shoots. He doesn’t have any fear, he’s not intimidated by the NBA and he comes right in and plays.”

While Popovich didn’t come out and say it, Bogdanovic would fit perfectly on his club. Fortunately for the Kings, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

“It’s an amazing thing,” Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California Monday evening. “That’s such a great coach to have such comments for me as a rookie coming over to the NBA. I’m trying to work every single day to be better and to play basketball the right way. That’s the part I think he likes.”

After acquiring his rights on draft night 2016, the Kings signed the 25-year-old Serbian to a three-year, $27 million deal during the offseason. Once his deal expires, he still falls under restricted free agent status, allowing the Kings to match offers for the talented young wing.

In their first matchup this season against San Antonio on Dec. 23, Bogdanovic dropped in 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting for the Kings. Monday night at Golden 1 Center, he led the bench unit, finishing the night with 16 points five rebounds and five assists in the Sacramento’s 107-100 loss.