If you were left scratching your head when the Atlanta Hawks announced that Bogdan Bogdanovic had signed a four year $68 million back in March, you probably weren’t the only one.
It seemed confusing at the time that Bogdanovic would be locked down to a long-term contract when he had shown some injury concerns and had trouble staying on the court (playing fewer than 55 games in two of his three seasons in Atlanta), including some effects as a result of those injuries, particularly defensively where he has looked a step slower at times than when he first arrived in Atlanta.
These are fair concerns to have even now, especially on the defensive end, but Bogdanovic — especially after the All-Star break — looked strong on the offensive end, shooting 45% from three on 5.9 attempts and 49% from the field, and for whatever those defensive issues are worth, the offense is still firing on all cylinders for Bogdanovic, playing 20 of the final 23 games after the All-Star break having missed 25 games prior to the break.
This good form carried over into the summer, where Bogdanovic spearheaded the Serbian team into the FIBA World Cup final with a number of fantastic offensive games before falling short of glory in the final against Germany.
Despite the disappointment of losing the final, Bogdanovic holds his head high and looks fondly over the off-season, the FIBA World Cup serving as a strong base to prepare him for the new season.
“It was a great summer honestly,” said Bogdanovic at media day. “As I said at the end of last season, I love to play for my national team and that also helps me get ready for the season.”
Bogdanovic’s rhythm to begin seasons has been slow at times, and he cites not being healthy enough to participate in training camps as a reason for this, which marks 2023 as an exception because this year he will be fit and healthy from the jump.
“Because of injuries, because of my health I’ve missed a couple training camps the last couple of years,” said Bogdanovic. “I’m excited for training camp, to compete with the guys and be with them, build the chemistry, find the rhythm and get ready for the season-opener.”
“Really good,” added Bogdanovic when asked how he felt health-wise. “Last couple of years, let’s say if some kid invited me outside on the street and said, ‘Let’s check up, let’s play basketball,’ I couldn’t do it! I needed to do my exercises, get ready, 30 minutes, and you kind of lose the fun part of it. Now I can just go. I don’t do it! But I can! I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”
Bogdanovic being healthy is obviously a huge plus for the Hawks, because — with the exception of Young, and perhaps Murray at times — there is no one on this roster who can ignite like Bogdan Bogdanovic, especially from the perimeter.
Bogdanovic is enormously important for this team’s three-point shooting, at times he was the only carrying that (forgive the pun) torch, and his health/ability to stay on the floor is going to be an important aspect for this Hawks season. Simply put, they absolutely need Bogdanovic to be healthy and available for the sake of their offense.
What the Hawks will also need Bogdanovic to do more of, in addition to staying on the court, is offer more leadership. Hawks General Manager Landy Fields acknowledged that the outgoing John Collins had a powerful voice, and one of points Fields wanted to make when asked about that absence in leadership was that there are others who can/are talking as well, be it defensively or otherwise.
Bogdanovic, as one of the vets on this team and one of its more experienced players, is no exception to this and has talked with Hawks head coach Quin Snyder about improving in this particular area.
“I think he talked more to me, because sometimes I’m quiet and work hard and lead from example” said Bogdanovic of talks with Snyder about being a leader. “But in the NBA you don’t get a lot of practices, and there’s a lot of games so you have to be more vocal. You have to find a way to motivate your guys, to guide them, especially somebody like me who’s experienced, I’ve got to share that experience. I’m going to do a better job this season of that.”
The 2023-24 season marks Bogdanovic’s fourth season with the Hawks, and in a sense this fact has suddenly crept up on everyone, including Bogdanovic himself.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Bogdanovic when asked about his four-year extension. “Somebody asked me at the world cup as well and I said this is the first team since Partizan, since my first team, that I stayed four years. I’m really excited for what’s next, I’m really happy to be here. I didn’t know much about Atlanta before I came here, now, when I go back to Serbia, I miss it. I love it here, so hopefully I stay here ‘til the end (of the extension).”
Now secured to a contract for the foreseeable future, a clean bill of health would go a long way towards a successful season for Bogdan Bogdanovic, because when he’s healthy he has been — for the most part — a very reliable member of the Atlanta Hawks and his normally reliable shooting (40.4% from three in three seasons in Atlanta) is essential in any success that the Hawks want to enjoy in the 2023-24 season.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is ready to hit the ground running again.