Croatia's dream of gold at FIBA Eurobasket ended Friday with a loss to Lithuania, but the tournament proved a big win for Bojan Bogdanovic who is likely to be named to the all-tournament team and won a lot of praise for his improved play and leadership. So much so that one pundit thinks he would have been a high lottery pick if he had been in this June's draft.
After winning eight straight games, the most in FIBA Eurobasket, Croatia ran into Lithuania's big lineup and lost by 15, meaning they will battle Spain who lost to France in OT Friday for the bronze medal. Spain beat Croatia by 28 points in the first game of Eurobasket.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 points in the 87-72 loss in the Slovenian capital, the only Croatian player to reach double figures. He scored 12 of those points in the first half when the game was close. It was the sixth time in 10 games that the 6'8" Nets Euro-Stash led his team in scoring. Bogdanovic had trouble finding the hole from deep, missing all five of his shots (and now eight straight in the last two games).
Still, Bogdanovic proved himself one of Europe's top scorers and is likely to be named to the All-Eurobasket team. He has won praise from a number of pundits for his NBA-ready game.Earlier in the month, Zach Lowe of Grantland, who watched a lot of the tournament, noted in a tweet.
@NetsDaily He has really improved his versatility -- lots of off-ball cuts, post-ups, etc. He's ready for the NBA.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 9, 2013
A.J. Mitnick who covers European basketball for Sheridan Hoops goes even further, saying if he had been in this year's draft, Bogdanovic would have been a top lottery pick.
Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn) has been fantastic for Croatia, emerging as their go-to guy, and knocking down big shot after big shot. Averaging 17.5 points per game, Bogdanovic should have Nets fans feeling a little bit more optimistic about their window as title contenders. Bogdanovic would have been a top 5 pick had he been in the draft this year, and he has the type of upside that could soften the blow when Paul Pierce decides to hang them up.
Nets insiders don't go that that far, but one league source said the Nets believed if he had been in the 2013 draft, he would have gone no lower than #8.
Now the question is when he will come over. He has an expiring contract with Fenerbahce and is amenable to an extension. The question for him and the Nets is what kind of buyouts he will seek in an extended deal ... and whether Fener will want to take a chance that he'll leave after next summer. He has told local media that it's "certain" he will play for Brooklyn, but has also said he might stay another two years in Europe.
- Game Report: Lithuania, 77, Croatia 62 - FIBA Europe
- Eurobasket'13 update: 10 things we have learned in Slovenia - A.J. Mitnick - Sheridan Hoops