SACRAMENTO -- Bogdan Bogdanovic put on a show earlier this month at the FIBA World Cup.
The Kings guard's Serbian national team fell short of its ultimate goal of winning the gold medal, but there is no question that he was a star during the tournament in China.
There even has been talk that Bogdanovic was the best player at the World Cup this summer, although he disagrees.
“I wasn’t, because I didn’t win it, but I will be one day,” Bogdanovic said Sunday after Kings training camp.
By winning it, Bogdanovic is talking about the gold medal, not the MVP of the tournament. Always a team-first player, he would have traded all of the personal accolades for a victory for Serbia.
Bogdanovic loves playing for his country and has no interest in stepping away from his national team. Basketball is huge in Serbia, which has a long history of success in international play.
“If you were from Serbia, you would really love to play for your national team. It’s really something special,” Bogdanovic told NBA Sports California. “I really like the great group of guys -- that’s what is most important. We all have a great relationship between us. That’s what keeps us together.”
While they were happy to see Bogdanovic succeed in international play, the Kings were even more elated to have him escape the summer with his health intact.
“This is the first time I’m healthy. I feel really good,” Bogdanovic said. “I was really working hard this summer, like never before, I can tell you that. Especially condition-wise on my body. I really feel good and excited.”
This wasn’t the case last summer when the second-year pro needed a procedure on his left knee, which cost him both training camp and 11 of the Kings’ first 12 games of the 2018-19 season.
His absence also cost him his starting position. With Bogdanovic missing time, Buddy Hield stepped up and had an incredible year for Sacramento, leading the Kings in scoring and cementing his first-team role alongside De’Aaron Fox.
Then-Kings coach Dave Joerger used Bogdanovic as his starting small forward for 17 games during the season, but it was almost by necessity. Where Bogdanovic flourished was with the second unit, averaging 14.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game. It’s a role he'll likely resume this season under new coach Luke Walton.
“You have a guy like Bogi, we both could start at two guard in this league, and that’s helping that competitive level back and forth, just competing against each other,” Hield said of his teammate. “It brings the best out of us each and every day.”
While it’s just been a few days of training camp, there is a buzz at the Kings' practice facility. They're deeper than they've been in a long time, and the competition for minutes will be intense.
Where the Kings had holes last season, they have savvy veterans this year. Bogdanovic will have starting-level players all around him, which should allow him to take another step forward in his progression.
“I’m really super confident about this team,” Bogdanovic said. “The guys, I can tell, have really worked hard this summer.”
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As for the change in coaching staff, Bogdanovic already has noticed the difference, although a lot of it comes down to his team being a year older and a little wiser.
“More patience, more details in the game, I think we’re thinking more, rather than just playing fast, just pushing the tempo, now we have more options,” Bogdanovic said. “We just got better. More experienced.”
Bogdanovic said he expects to play 28 to 29 minutes per game this season for the Kings, which is on par with what he averaged as Serbia's starting shooting guard this summer. The Kings plan to run, like they did last season, and Bogdanovic will have plenty of freedom to create for himself and others.