Player: Bogdan Bogdanovic
Age: 27 years
Relevant stats: Through 53 games for the Sacramento Kings this season, Bogdanovic has averaged 14.5 points per game on 43.3% from the field, including 36.1% from behind the arc on a career-high 7.2 attempts per game. He’s also averaged 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and a steal per game while averaging 28.5 minutes per game.
Contract status: Bogdanovic is in the final year of a three-year, $27 million rookie contract he signed with the Kings in 2017. The Kings can offer him a $10.6 million qualifying offer in free agency, which would make him an unrestricted free agent regardless of whether or not he accepts it. Bogdanovic will have a $16 million cap hold this summer.
Recap: Going into the season, Kings fans had hoped Bogdanovic would crack the starting lineup, but I don’t think anyone could have guessed it would come at the expense of Buddy Hield, who averaged a team-high 20.7 points per game on 42.7% shooting from behind the arc last season. In January, Luke Walton decided to move Hield to the bench in favor of Bogdanovic. While Walton insisted that the move wouldn’t be permanent at the time, Hield hasn’t started a game since, and Bogdanovic has been a mainstay in the starting lineup.
In the 20 games Bogdanovic has started this season, he’s averaged 14.5 points per game, which is ironically the same points per game he’s averaged off of the bench, just on a more efficient percentage 44.7% from the field. However, while Bogi’s numbers haven’t been much different since moving into the starting lineup, the Kings have gone 13-7 in the games that he’s started in place of Hield.
Does that mean Bogdanovic is a better player than Hield? No, but it does mean he’s adapted to Walton’s offensive system better than Hield has, if for no other reason than Walton has asked Hield to do too much of the things he’s not particularly good at, like creating his own offense and being a playmaker.
In addition, Bogdanovic has been a more impactful player on the defensive end this season, even if the margin hasn’t been wide. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Kings have allowed 0.6 points per 100 possessions more with Bogdanovic on the floor compared to the full points they’ve allow with Hield on the floor. Again, the gap is small, but meaningful.
In an ideal world, Bogdanovic and Hield would co-exist in the starting lineup because they’re two of the five-best players on the roster, but that problem isn’t going to be solved this season — not even if the NBA decides to allow the Kings to play the remaining 18 games on their regular season schedule.
Future with Kings: The Kings intend to match any offer Bogdanovic in restricted free agency, according to a report from Jason Jones of The Athletic earlier this month. That’s obviously great news for Kings fans, but the type of deal he signs — whether it’s with the Kings or another team — might be affected by the suspensions and eventual cancelation of games, the latter or which would lead to another drop in the cap.
Let’s hope that the money Bogdanovic is looking for initially will be available when free agency finally rolls around. If not, we could find ourselves having a similar conversation a year from now, as opposed to four years from now.