By: Anthony Pignatti
The Brooklyn Nets (then New Jersey Nets) selected Bojan Bogdanovic with the 31st pick in the 2011 NBA draft. After three years playing overseas with Fenerbahce Ulker, he’s finally coming to play in the NBA after accepting a three-year, $10.3 million deal – according to ESPN.
Bogdanovic, listed at 6’8 216 lbs, offers the Nets an added layer of versatility – a facet Billy King and the Nets have sought ever since the Nets moved to Brooklyn. He’s most noted as a SG/SF, but in today’s NBA, he could play PF as well. This flexibility gives coach Hollins the luxury of mixing and matching his lineups in a number of different ways to take advantage of mismatches. In addition, Bogdanovic’s 6’8 frame adds a unique combination of size and scoring ability to the wing positions, especially important with the departure of the 6’7 Shaun Livingston. The addition of another versatile European player fits right in with what the Nets and owner Mikhail Prokhorov are trying to accomplish, both as an on-court product and as a global brand.
Bogdanovic, put simply, can score – from anywhere. Though not regarded as a primary ball-handler, he is able to create off the dribble and penetrate defenses in the crafty European manner we’ve seen from others in the NBA (ie. Manu Ginobili). He has a smooth looking jump-shot and gets it off in a hurry. With that said, it’s worth noting his inconsistencies. His 3-point percentage dipped from above 40% in ‘12-’13 with Fenerbahce to below 30% the following season. It remains to be seen how his offense will translate to the NBA game, but a sizeable scorer is a welcomed commodity for the Nets – especially with Paul Pierce suiting up in Washington next year.
With the Nets down three rotational players (and possibly more) from last season – Livingston, Blatche, and Thornton – Bojan has an opportunity to fill one of many potential roles for the upcoming season. Contingent on Hollins’ desired style, there are a number of interchangeable lineups that could have a significant impact on how the Nets play and their success doing so. The majority of the roster, along with Bogdanovic, can play 2 or even 3 positions. This leaves Hollins with an abundance of options at his disposal.
Here are some of the potential scenarios Bogdanovic could help the Nets next season:
Bogdanovic will almost certainly come off the bench in a reserve role for the 2014-2015 season. He could have an opportunity to fill the void left behind by Marcus Thornton – the lightning rod scoring punch off the bench. If Hollins envisions Jack playing alongside Williams in a starter’s role, there’s an opportunity for Bogdanovic to input instant offense as the backup wing to Jack and Joe Jesus.
Livingston’s departure leaves an expectant need in the backcourt and Jack will probably assume that role. However, Bogdanovic could be a better compliment to Williams’ game moreso than Jack. If he develops quickly, it’s possible he could eventually see starters’ minutes next to Williams. This gives the Nets a notable size advantage at the SG position. Couple his size and shooting ability, he may prove to be a very tough cover for teams with smaller guards, similar to the advantage Joe Johnson’s sees consistently.
Prior to Brook’s injury, the idea was to surround him with shooters and force defenses to collapse. Unfortunately, nothing other than Brook’s foot collapsed, forcing the Nets to play a completely different style by starting Pierce at PF. If Hollins implements a similar approach next season and Bogdanovic improves his shooting consistency, the Nets may have found their latest 3-point weapon. A mobile, knock-down shooting 6’8 SF can definitely help this team’s offense.
Possible but probably unlikely is the idea that Bojan could see minutes at PF next season. However, Bogdanovic’s defense is certainly at a lower standard than his offense, and his slender frame and underwhelming rebounding numbers while with Fenerbahce make this scenario unlikely. Still, teams have downsized their PFs for shooters, making this not out of the realm of possibilities. It’s plausible to think he could have a role as a stretch 4 in this league.
And of course, Bojan could simply not translate to the NBA at all. He lacks lateral quickness, a necessary skill required of guarding most NBA wings. His shooting inconsistencies, primarily from 3-point range, is worrisome. And he may never be able to find a consistent 23-foot range jumper.
Adding Bojan Bogdanovic adds another capable shooter to the current Net roster, along with size and versatility the Nets often covet. If Bogdanovic proves reliable as nothing other than a consistent shooter and at least a marginal defender, the Nets should be pleased with their European prospect. More dominos need to fall to have a clearer picture on how Bogdanovic may fit in with the Nets’ roster next season – but it’s clear he’ll have a number of opportunities for the sheer versatility he brings.