Bodgan Bogdanovic was quietly one of the better offensive backcourt weapons around the league last season, at least on a per touch basis. The Atlanta Hawks, who ranked outside the top-10 in the league in offensive rating despite having one of the elite offensive engines in recent memory in Trae Young, were desperate to surround the budding star with legitimate weapons heading into a season where the club is on record with playoff aspirations.
The 28-year old is also an above average defender, on top of being a prolific offensive weapon. While Bogdanovic is already a versatile offensive weapon, Young will easily be the best offensive player he’s played with so far in his career, and one would think the pressure defenses will feel from attempting to slow down Young, John Collins, and others would only open doors for Bogdanovic to become even more efficient.
After struggling to generate consistent offense last season, Atlanta was able to bring in two of the better offensive players on the free agent market in Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari, and now seems primed to actually make that playoff run. Let’s take a closer look on what exactly Bogdanovic brings to the table.
As you can see in the Synergy profile, there really isn’t an area of the game that Bogdanovic doesn’t excel in offensively on the wing. Nearly half of his usage was either on the ball in pick-and-roll, or in spot up. While shooting is certainly a big reason he was brought to Atlanta, the 6’6 wing has an ability to put defenders on his back and navigate his way to the basket for paint points as well, when there’s not enough space to pull the trigger from the perimeter.
“I know a lot of you guys probably think I’m just a shooter, but I’m much more than that,” Bodganovic told reporters in an introductory Zoom press conference in early December.
The veteran is indeed, much more than a floor spacer. He can get out in transition, he’s an effective cutter, effective DHO player, and when he got a chance to isolate he was effective in that area as well.
At 3.5 assists per game playing alongside a ball dominant point like De’Aaron Fox, Bogdanovic is also a sharp passer and makes the most of his touches as a facilitator. While he will spend much of his time sharing the floor with Young, Atlanta may also choose to stagger the backcourt mates at times as well, giving Bogdanovic the ball and allowing him to thrive as a pick-and-roll ball handler. Nearly 25% of the veteran’s usage lied as a pick-and-roll ball handler last season.
Bodganovic adds quite a bit to a teams offense, as he is a more than capable player across a variety of areas on that end of the floor. Adding a player of his caliber should not be taken lightly, if defenses choose to hone in on Young, expect Bogdanovic to eat.
The Kings were +3.3 points better per 100 possessions with Bogdanovic on the floor offensively compared to when he sat according to Cleaning the Glass, by far the best mark of his career.
With Gallinari set to come off of the bench, the Hawks have added two of the more underrated offensive players in the game in he and Bogdanovic, giving them the ability to create immensely more spacing than any of their lineups were able to generate last season.
Bodganovic isn’t an elite defender, and also probably isn’t someone you throw out on the other team’s top option. He is however, big and strong enough to slide down to the 3, while someone like Cam Reddish or De’Andre Hunter may be more suited to slide up to the POA or the 2 defensively, depending on the matchup of course. He is stronger than he is fast, so scaling down to a bigger matchup honestly suits his game.
He’s right at one steal per game for his NBA career, with little to show in the blocked shots department. The Kings were essentially the same team defensively whether Bogdanovic was on or off the floor, allowing just .2 more points per 100 possessions when he was out there according to Cleaning the Glass. Given how effective he is offensively, ‘breaking even’ on defense results in Bogdanovic being a positive impact player.
The perfect fit at the 2 next to Trae Young may be someone like Klay Thompson or Paul George, but with guys like that rarely on the market, adding a quality two-way option like Bogdanovic is certainly worthwhile. He’s young enough that tying him and Young together in the foreseeable future still seems like a good idea, and he has a combination of size and skillset that is catered to the modern game.
The expectation for now is that Bogdanovic will slot in as the starting shooting guard come opening night for the Hawks. With the preseason on the doorsteps, we are close to getting a look at how Lloyd Pierce may deploy his new weapons, though obviously a good bit of load management could be expected in games that don’t count. Still, with the regular season just two weeks away, teams have plenty of motivation to put out a good product on the court in an effort to hit the ground running.
Atlanta will be fighting for a playoff seed this season, and Bogdanovic figures to be a huge part of what the team hopes to be a springboard season. Having All-Star aspirations for the wing are probably not realistic, but expecting him to be a big part of the leap is more than fair. He will be one of the better players on the roster if things go as planned, as the Hawks have made a considerable effort to surround Young with dependable veteran help. Bogdanovic’s biggest contribution will obviously be aiding Young in carrying the backcourt load offensively, and if he’s the same player he was a season ago, that tandem will be quite deadly.