When Billy King interviewed Lionel Hollins for the Nets head coaching job last July, one of the things he did was show Hollins a video of Bojan Bogdanovic and asked the veteran coach how he would use him. It was not a random test. King and the Nets thought highly of the Croatian swingman.
What Hollins told King didn't make it out of the interview room, but the coach has shown from Day One a confidence in the 6'8" Bogdanovic. He has been unfailingly supportive of his transition from Europe to the NBA.
The first thing Hollins made clear on Media Day was that the 6'8" Bogdanovic was a shooting guard, not a small forward. The ball would be in hands a lot. Within days, Bogdanovic was practicing with the Core 4, the guys whose whose faces are on the grand entrance at Barclays Center, on the NetroCards.
So far, so good. Bogdanovic is the second highest scoring rookie in the NBA, averaging 10 points a game. He's also fifth in PER, sixth in shooting percentage and three point shooting. Not bad, considering the Nets had no first round pick in the 2014 Draft, having traded it away in the Paul Pierce - Kevin Garnett trade.
Hollins said Sunday night that he'd watched a lot of Bogdanovic in the FIBA World Cup, where he finished third in scoring, liked what he saw. Hollins comments are echoed by Bogdanovic's teammates as well.
"Everybody knew who he was, I mean, he wasn’t a secret over there. The Nets had his rights for three years and were talking about him every year, about how well he played. He played well in the World Cup, which I watched, and I just thought he was a basketball player, and he showed tonight, you know, his shooting, which is not always as good as it was tonight, but he makes basketball plays. He makes fields. For a guy, first time around the NBA, he does a decent job defensively."
Deron Williams also spoke about his backcourt mate in glowing terms Sunday, as Jason Schott of Brooklyn Fans chronicles...
"He’s a rookie, but he’s not because he’s played at high level for so long. He’s 25 years old, and he knows how to play the game. He doesn’t have much of a weakness. He can pass, he can shoot, he can dribble, and he can post up. He’s very versatile. He’s meant a lot to this team."
Williams added that the Nets are trying to get him more involved in the offense. Joe Johnson agreed. "He was a recipient tonight. He got a lot of great looks and easy baskets. He played big for us."
Bogdanovic says the early confidence shown in him was a big help.
"I feel more comfortable game-by-game, especially because I play a lot of minutes. That’s been the key to my confidence ... I know that I’m going to have a shot to play, so I have to practice a lot, especially because our whole team is counting on Deron, Joe or KG. So I have to work to get them shots on the floor."
Like the rest of the Nets, Bogdanovic will have their first big test this week, on the road, against top Western Conference competition ... including a back-to-back. He'll also be guarding some top NBA players on the trip.
- Here’s looking at you, Bogie - Jason Schott - Brooklyn Fans
- Bogdanovic delivers glimpse of potential - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Bogey Man lifts Nets over Magic - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
Nets rewind: One rookie stars and one rookie sits - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Around the world in 20 players: The NBA’s most interesting internationals - Jonathan Raymond - The National