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Bogdan Bogdanovic displaying impressive shooting percentages in preseason

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The Serbian swingman is shooting better than ever.

Kimani Okearah

While Bogdan Bogdanovic’s experience overseas this summer in the FIBA World Cup certainly helped him stay in basketball shape and allowed him to hone his skills even more, his standout shooting so far this preseason may stem from his health, and a comfort level within the Kings offense to start the year that didn’t quite seem to be there last season.

In the 2018-19 campaign, “Bogi” saw his field goal percentage and three-point percentage drop from his first year (it should be noted that his points, rebounds and assists all did increase, and he took a few more shots per game). In the preseason so far, he is shooting 47 percent from the field (11-23), a blistering 72 percent from three (8-11) and overall he just looks more comfortable.

So, what is the reason for that comfort level? He thinks it might be the fact that last season began with an injury. This season, he has been able to participate in training camp and be a part of the team from the start.

In September 2018, Bogdanovic left Serbia’s World Cup Qualifying game with some left knee discomfort. Further evaluation revealed a minor injury to his left knee that required an arthroscopic procedure. He was slated to miss 4-6 weeks, and didn’t return to the Kings rotation until Nov. 7. This came after a previous knee procedure in April 2018. Bogi had his moments throughout 2018-19, including what may have been the highlight of the team’s season with his game-winning three over the Lakers, but his shooting overall seemed to be off when compared to his first season – dropping from 44 percent to 41 percent from the field and 39 percent to 36 percent from three – and his early season injury issues likely didn’t help.

”It’s not about missing games, it’s about you are not with the team and you are not on the court so when I came back it distracts a lot,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s hard to just fit somebody.”

And fit was certainly an issue considering the Kings had installed a new, fast-paced offense in his absence, which removed a lot of the half-court sets he tends to excel in.

So far, his health has allowed him to be around the team during training camp and play in the first preseason games. And being a part of the offense as the season progressed last season may have helped his comfort level over the last couple of weeks, and his shooting percentage could be a reflection of that. Though he is still learning the offense with his new teammates, he is pleased with how new head coach Luke Walton plans to use him.

”He knows my point guard skills and shooting guard skills, and he wants to use me as a combo guard, which I really like. I don’t like to be just a shooter or just a point guard. I like to switch it up all the time and I think that makes it a tough job for the defense,” Bogdanovic said.

Cory Joseph and/or Yogi Ferrell will likely handle the majority of those point guard duties on the bench, but considering Bogi is likely to be the focal point of the second unit it is a good sign that he likes the direction and what the bench guys have to offer around him this season. Richaun Holmes gives him someone who can roll to the basket, which can not only lead to lobs, but make it easier for Bogdanovic to get shots up because the bigs on defense will have to sag off him. Nemanja Bjelica, Trevor Ariza, Joseph and Ferrell will likely round out the rest of the second unit (until Harry Giles is cleared to play), and Bogi appreciates the amount of experience the group has.

”I feel like it’s really easy to play with them,” Bogdanovic said. “Everyone can step up, everyone can have a night and everyone can get that win – it’s in the details.”

Bogdanovic, like others who were on the team last season, was disappointed about not making the playoffs, but he knows there will be more opportunities.

”There were a lot of teams that played for 2 or 3 years on the same court and didn’t make the playoffs, but every year they stepped up closer to the playoffs, like Denver [a few seasons ago]. … We just have to keep working hard and keep believing in what we have here,” he said. “We have to find a way to win more games than last year. … We have to show everyone that we really improved this summer.”