A rookie only in name last season, Bogdan Bogdanovic is ready to take on more of an active role in his sophomore campaign. After finishing out the European season with Fenerbahce and playing through last summer with the Serbian national team leading up to the NBA season, the 26-year-old wing looked tired in March and April.
He underwent a successful procedure to repair a slight tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee after the season ended, forcing him to rest for 8-10 weeks. Healthy and well rested, the Kings are hoping Bogdanovic steps in and makes an even bigger contribution in his second season in the NBA.
Listed at 6-foot-6, 205-pounds, Bogdanovic is a versatile player with a long wingspan and mature game. In his rookie campaign, he proved to be the Kings’ best passer, especially in pick-and-roll sets.
Bogdanovic has a natural feel for the game that he’s honed while playing professionally overseas since a young age. He can play off the ball or as a primary ball handler, making him one of the more valuable players on the Kings roster.
Unlike most players coming from the college levels, Bogdanovic brings a developed offense game that opens the spacing for his teammates. The additions of Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III will only give him more weapons to work with this season. The Kings will look to push the tempo, but when they get into half court sets, the offense will often run through Bogdanovic for long stretches.
While his long range shooting numbers were respectable in Europe, Bogdanovic found the spacing at the NBA level to his liking. He knocked down 39.2 percent from behind the arc last season and shot over 40 percent from deep in December, January and February before the grind of the 82-game schedule hurt his numbers late in the year.
On the defensive end, Bogdanovic is savvy. He uses his wingspan and high basketball IQ to stay with bigger players, although the quicker guards can be an issue. He’s a serviceable defender at both the two and the three, although he gets by more on his smarts than his physical tools.
If there is one knock on him as a player it is that he is too unselfish. Most young players come into the league looking to make a mark. In his rookie season, Bogdanovic deferred to his teammates too often, leaving plenty of scoring opportunities on the court.
The Kings need Bogdanovic to be aggressive in looking for his own shot. He has the potential to lead the team in scoring and they need him to take the next step in year two.
Like most of his young teammates, Bogdanovic struggled to get to the free throw line. An 84 percent shooter from the stripe, he averaged just 1.5 attempts per game in his first season. He needs to look to draw contact as he develops into a more prominent scoring threat for Sacramento.
Bogdanovic lacks elite athleticism, although he gets by on his experience and his advanced understanding of the game. He struggled to stay in front of faster guards and while he held his own against bigger wings, it’s not a perfect fit. He’s added bulk in the offseason and a clean out on his knee should help as well.
Path to Improvement
More, more, more. That is what the Sacramento Kings need from Bogdan Bogdanovic. He’s mature beyond his years and unselfish to a fault. Even his cold spots on the floor are only slightly below league average.
Bogdanovic finished the season second to only Buddy Hield in 3-point attempts for the Kings last season, but the team needs him to chuck. He fared better from the top of the key and from the left side, but he’s solid from most spots except for from the right elbow.
It’s unlikely that Bogdanovic will ever shoot seven-to-eight 3-pointers a game, but he needs to increase from his current 4.2 attempts. He’s a quality marksman both off the dribble and off the catch-and-shoot, the Kings just need to feature him more in the offense.
Bogdanovic also needs to get to the free throw line more and work on his floaters in the key, but for a first-year player, there was a lot to like.
Bogdanovic is huge piece to what the Kings are trying to accomplish this season. He’ll start at either the shooting guard or small forward position and play major minutes for coach Dave Joerger.
Last season, Bogdanovic tried to fit in. Year two is different. The veterans are stepping aside or already playing for other teams. Bogdanovic is a coach on the floor and one of the leaders on the team. He’s also the best pick-and-roll ball handler the Kings have.
In 27.9 minutes per game last season, Bogdanovic averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. He was able to manage those numbers without an offseason break following his European season and while playing on a bum knee.
With a predicted boost in minutes and coming into the season healthier than last year, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Bogdanovic push his numbers up substantially in his sophomore season. An early prediction is 32-35 minutes per game for Bogdanovic while posting 15.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. He’s capable of scoring more, but he’s also a team player that looks to get everyone involved.