Kings

Can Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic bring World Cup stardom back to Sacramento?

Can Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic bring World Cup stardom back to Sacramento?

Serbia finished off their 2019 FIBA World Cup run Saturday morning with a 90-81 victory over the Czech Republic. A fifth-place finish is not what the Serbs were hoping for when they entered the field in China. It was a disappointing showing for a team that came into the tournament with visions of gold.

Losses to perennial international powerhouses in Spain and Argentina proved to be the undoing of Serbia, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Sacramento Kings wing Bogdan Bogdanovic. In fact, the 27-year-old has been the talk of the tournament, despite his team’s early exit.

For the tournament, the smooth shooting guard averaged 22.9 points, 4.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 28 minutes per game. During his team’s eight contests, Bogdanovic knocked down 35-of-66 (53 percent) attempts from behind the arc and ran an incredible +100 overall in the plus/minus category.

Bogdanovic was the star of his team and possibly even the MVP of the tournament. He took ownership of his team and put on a show. More importantly for his team back in the NBA, he escaped the tournament without injury and looks ready to take another big step forward in his third season in the league.

It’s possible Bogdanovic will need to take it easy through training camp and the preseason schedule as he recovers not only from the World Cup, but the extreme travel schedule. He’ll fly to Sacramento and then back to India in the first week of October for the Kings’ preseason matchups against the Indiana Pacers.

The Kings have undoubtedly kept a close eye on Bogdanovic throughout the tournament to ensure that he returns to the States in good health, and they have to love what they are seeing on the court. Luke Walton is still learning his players, but like everyone else in Sacramento, he has to wonder if Bogdanovic can translate his international success to another step forward with the Kings.

This is the third straight summer Bogdnaovic has come to the Kings after playing in international competition. His rookie season in the league, Bogdanovic looked worn out early in the year as he adjusted to a new league. In his sophomore season, Bogdanovic missed 11 of the first 12 games after sustaining an injury during the EuroBasket tournament, undergoing knee surgery at the start of camp.

Now fully healthy, Bogdanovic will enter camp competing for minutes in a crowded rotation in Sacramento. The early plan is likely for Bogdanovic to be a key component in the second unit. He’ll have an opportunity to be an offensive leader of the group with veterans like Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelcia flanking him.

How good can Bogdanovic be? It’s a question the Kings are anxious to learn.

He’s often drawn comparisons to former San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili, who spent years coming off the bench for Gregg Popovich’s club. Like Bogdanovic, Ginobili continued to star in international play as well as with his team in the NBA.

Prior to his third NBA season, a 27-year-old Ginobili led Argentina to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. That experience appeared to work as a catalyst for the player Ginobili became in the NBA. 

He would go on to make the All-Star team for the first time during the 2004-05 season and he became a vital member of a perennial championship contender in San Antonio.

The Kings can only hope that Bogdanovic will have a similar career trajectory to Ginobili’s. With any luck, his latest experience in World Cup play will give him the confidence to be a more assertive NBA player and to take ownership of the Kings like he has with the Serbian national team.

[RELATED: How Luke Walton could use Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield this year]

Sacramento could use a player that can score at will and makes his teammates better. They have seen flashes of this from Bogdanovic, but they need more.

There is an outline of what Bogdanovic can be. He’s a long way away from a real comparison to Ginobili, but if he can be the player he was for Serbia, he can be a difference-maker for the Kings.

NBA opt-out tracker: Every player who declined to return for playoffs

NBA opt-out tracker: Every player who declined to return for playoffs

The NBA season will resume at the end of the month, with the Kings and 21 other teams each playing eight seeding games at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida in order to determine the 16-team playoff bracket.

Not every player will be there.

Some are concerned about injuries, some are concerned about leaving their families and some are concerned about playing in a state that quickly has become one of the world's worst hotspots for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

[RELATED: Bagley ready to play if Kings can fit him in rotation]

Teams reportedly had to submit their travel parties on July 1, but news continues to trickle about what all 22 look like. Here's every player who has opted out of the restarted NBA season so far.

Taurean Prince, SF

The Nets are running out of players.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday, citing sources, that Brooklyn forward Taurean Prince tested positive for the coronavirus and will not play in the NBA season restart.

Prince joins Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler as Nets who won't be traveling to Orlando this week.

Brooklyn now has the ability to sign four replacement players if they choose to.

Spencer Dinwiddie, SG

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie announced he would not be traveling to Orlando with the Nets. Dinwiddie cited another positive coronavirus test and the symptoms of the virus as reason to stay home.

The Nets now will be without Dinwiddie, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant in Orlando.

Bradley Beal, SG

The Wizards push for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference took another hit when the team announced that star guard Bradley Beal would not make the trip to Orlando due to a shoulder injury.

Washington now will be without Beal, Davis Bertans and John Wall in Orlando.

Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers SG

Oladipo was not the first player who decided not to go to Orlando, but he's the biggest name as of this writing. The 28-year-old ruptured his quadriceps tendon earlier this season, and Oladipo told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on July 3 that he opted out in order to avoid getting injured again.

"A part of rehab is working your way back and getting yourself to [100 percent]," Oladipo explained, "so at the end of the day, going back and turning things up as quickly as we're about to do, and pretty much going to playoff formation and playoff games after eight games, I'm more susceptible to injury than anyone else is. So it's not about now. It's about longevity."

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards PF

The Latvian sharpshooter became the first healthy player on a roster to opt out of playing in Orlando when he did so last month. Bertans, 27, averaged a career-high 15.4 points per game and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. With the Wizards likely only to make the playoffs as the Eastern Conference's eighth seed after winning a play-in series with the Brooklyn Nets, Bertans decided not to play.

"Davis is about to sign the biggest deal of his life, so he would be taking a big risk by playing," Arturs Kalnitis, Bertans' agent, told HoopsHype on June 22. "It wasn’t a tough decision, to be honest. If the Wizards were in the fifth or sixth seed (or maybe even the eighth seed), it would be completely different. Davis is a competitor. But in this situation, he decided to sit out.”

Trevor Ariza, Portland Trail Blazers SF

Ariza, who the Kings traded to the Trail Blazers ahead of this year's trade deadline, reportedly won't play in Orlando in order to spend time with his 12-year-old son. The 34-year-old is involved in a custody case with the boy's mother, and Ariza would've missed a court-ordered one-month visitation period with his son by playing.

Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Lakers SG

Bradley told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on June 23 that he wouldn't join the Lakers in Orlando because of the unlikelihood that his 6-year-old son Liam would be medically cleared to join him in the later rounds. The younger Bradley has previously struggled to recover from respiratory illnesses.

"As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family," the elder Bradley, who's married with three children, said. "And so, at a time like this, I can't imagine making any decision that might put my family's health and well-being at even the slightest risk."

The Lakers signed J.R. Smith to replace Bradley on their roster. The Kings are scheduled to play the Lakers on Aug. 13.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Dallas Mavericks C

Cauley-Stein and his partner are expecting a child in July, and the former Kings and Warriors big man reportedly decided to opt out as a result.

The Kings are scheduled to play the Mavericks on Aug. 4.

Wilson Chandler, Brooklyn Nets SF

Chandler, 33, told ESPN on June 28 he would not play in Orlando in order to spend time with his grandmother and three children.

"As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first," Chandler said. "Thank you to the Nets organization for understanding and supporting me in this decision, and I will be watching and rooting for our team in Orlando."

Chandler is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Kings are scheduled to play the Nets on Aug. 7.

DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets C

Jordan tweeted on June 29 that he won't play in Orlando after testing positive for COVID-19 while still in Brooklyn.


Thabo Sefalosha, Houston Rockets SG

Wojnarowski reported July 1 that Sefalosha opted out of playing. The Rockets agreed to a deal with Luc Mbah a Moute to replace Sefalosha on the roster, according to multiple reports.

The Kings are scheduled to play the Rockets on Aug. 9.

How Spencer Dinwiddie, Bradley Beal opting out of restart impacts Kings

How Spencer Dinwiddie, Bradley Beal opting out of restart impacts Kings

The NBA opt-out tracker is still buzzing along. On Tuesday, a pair of players decided not to participate in the league’s Orlando bubble reboot, which certainly will impact the Kings’ chances of snapping their playoffs streak.

The Brooklyn Nets lost a fifth player when Spencer Dinwiddie announced that he will not participate due to another positive coronavirus test.

Dinwiddie, who averages 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game for the Nets, joins Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who are both injured, as well as DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler, all of whom will not compete.

[RELATED: How Kings are handling leaving family behind for NBA's Orlando restart]

Sacramento faces off the with the Nets on Aug. 7 for a 3 p.m. PT tipoff. The game is the lone back-to-back on the Kings’ restart schedule. They’ll face the New Orleans Pelicans the day before.

In addition to Dinwiddie, Bradley Beal also chose to step aside and miss the Orlando Bubble due to a shoulder injury.

"This was a difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly as the leader of this team,” Beal said in an official release. “I wanted to help my teammates compete for a playoff spot in Orlando, but also understand that this will be best for all of us in the long term."

While the Kings don’t play the Wizards in the restart, the Pelicans and the Phoenix Suns do. In addition to Beal, backcourt mate John Wall, who still is recovering from an Achilles tear, and Davis Bertans, who chose not to attend due to his impending free agency, are out for the Wizards as well.

With the pool of teams set at just 22, most of the players that have chosen not to participate, for whatever reason, will have an impact on the final standings.

In addition to missing the five Nets players, the Kings also will not face Willie Cauley-Stein (Mavericks), Avery Bradley (Lakers) and Thabo Sefalosha (Rockets). Los Angeles replaced Bradley with J.R. Smith and Luc Mbah a Moute signed with Houston with Sefalosha missing the festivities.