Two months ago, the Sacramento Kings scheduled minor surgery to address some mild discomfort Bogdan Bogdanovic experienced in Serbia’s World Cup qualifying game over the summer. The procedure was projected to keep him out of the lineup for four to six weeks, a tough blow to a team without a single player in ESPN’s top-100 players. Hopes of a decent start to the season dropped to an all-time low with the announcement, as many would argue Bogdan was Sacramento’s best player during his rookie year.
10 games passed before Bogdanovic finished his recovery, and Sacramento sat at a surprising 6-4 record. While excitement was high for the second-year guard’s return to the court, his initial play wasn’t particularly auspicious, as he scored just 7 points on 7 shots in his debut against the Toronto Raptors, and he followed that performance with 6 points on 6 field goal attempts in a lopsided loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. It was clear that Bogdan was still polishing off a patina of rust in those first couple of contests. However, Bogdanovic’s last five games have showcased the confident and composed player who won over the hearts of the fans and coaching staff last season:
Five Game Average
Bogdan has scored in double-digits in each of those games, and is 3rd on the team in scoring, 5th in field goal percentage, 4th in three-point percentage, and 2nd in assists, despite playing just 24 minutes per night. He still looks a bit slow at times, likely due to both his recovering knee and a minor lack of game shape, but he’s still impacting the game in multiple ways.
Bogdanovic’s ability to contribute as both a scorer and a facilitator is second only to De’Aaron Fox’s own proficiency in those areas. Over the course of last season and the current campaign, Bogi has shown a penchant for actively using his dribble as a tool to find big men around the rim, a talent that not only opens up the floor for himself, but also every other shooter on the floor. It comes as no surprise that over half of his assists have been tallied between Marvin Bagley, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Harry Giles:
Bogdanovic doesn’t settle for the role of pure facilitator, either. Unlike the other wing options on the roster, Bogi has demonstrated the ability to use his handle to penetrate the lane and score through a myriad of short jumpers, floaters, and layups. Only 36.4% of his two-point field goals have been assisted this season, compared to 53.8% for Troy Williams, 54.2% for Iman Shumpert, and a whopping 80.8% for Justin Jackson. He’s one of only a few players on the team who can competently create his own shot when needed.
When he’s not slicing through the defense, Bogdan is likely hunting three-pointers on the perimeter. He’s upped both his attempts and his percentage over the last five contests, taking 6.8 per game and knocking down 41% of those shots. Contrary to Frank Mason and Buddy Hield, Bogdanovic rarely turns down a long-ball. He’ll make the smart play and take the open shot if the defense gives it to him. And similar to his Serbian counterpart Nemanja Bjelica, Bogi is not a player who’s addicted to toeing the three-point line, often stepping well outside the arc to nail a dagger:
Bogdan Bogdanovic’s return from injury has afforded Dave Joerger another uniquely-flavored high-level perimeter option. De’Aaron Fox is lightning personified. Blink and you’ll miss him. He tears up and down the floor, swinging the momentum of the game in a few heart-pounding ticks of the clock. Buddy Hield is the fire to Fox’s lightning, liable to combust at any moment. Allow the Bahamian Baller to heat up and there’s almost no stopping him on the offensive end of the floor. He can go on a solo 10 or 12 point run at a moment’s notice. Bogdan Bogdanovic is a little different than his younger teammates. He is the ice: calm, measured, and deadly in his own right. The second-year wing is unafraid of the big moment, proving that clutch streak in a close game against the Utah Jazz Friday night, scoring 12 critical points on 5 shots to lead the Kings to victory.
While there’s no question as to the value of Bogdanovic’s contributions, there’s still some debate as to where and when he should be deployed. Bogdan is most naturally slotted as a shooting guard, but Buddy Hield has that position locked down, and thankfully, Hield’s minutes haven’t suffered at the expense of Bogi’s return, dropping by just one minute per game. The Serbian star can also feature as a lead ball-handler, but he certainly won’t be taking any minutes away from De’Aaron Fox, a 20-year old playing like a top-10 point guard in the league. The festering wound that was the small forward spot has been resuscitated by the surprising play of Iman Shumpert, a veteran leader who is a better on-ball defender than Bogdanovic. There may not be room in the starting lineup for the renaissance man.
Thus far, Dave Joerger’s solution has been to run Bogdan with the second unit, and that option has mostly worked. The 26-year old provides a soothing presence to some of the more excitable bench players on the team, and his ability to put his big men in the best position to score is a boon to youngsters like Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley. When he’s not setting up his teammates, Bogi can provide a scoring lift when less experienced players struggle. Bogdan Bogdanovic’s return may provide a bit of a rotational issue for Dave Joerger, but this current conundrum is no doubt the nicest problem he has faced since joining the Sacramento bench.