The Brooklyn Nets are quite pleased with Bojan Bogdanovic's decision to sign with the team for the next three years. With Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston signing elsewhere this offseason, the Nets were seeking talent to surround their 'core' of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. With Livingston exiting Brooklyn, the Nets finally had room for Bogdanovic to take the mini-MLE for three years guaranteed, starting at $3.3 million and totaling $10.3 million over the course of the agreement.
It took three years to finally nab Bogdanovic, but in this situation, it's certainly better late than never. The 25 year-old, sharp shooter from Croatia is yet another well-groomed star from Europe, mostly known for his recent play for Turkish basketball club, Fenerbahçe Ülker. This past season, Bogdanovic averaged 15 points per game, while shooting 47% from the field in over 30 minutes per game.
In terms of expectations in the NBA, we can never be too sure how he will do, being that he has yet to play a single game. But, it can't hurt to seek as much information as possible, just so we know what to expect from the newest member of our beloved Brooklyn Nets.
Q&A with Ismail Senol on Bojan Bogdanovic
1. This past April, Bojan said he looked forward to playing against the San Antonio Spurs this upcoming October in the preseason Global Games. At the time, it seemed like a definitive sign that he would stay with Fenerbahce. What changed his mind to come to join the Nets?
Ismail Senol: It was April, and Fenerbahçe Ülker was chasing the league championships. The team also failed in Euroleague and Bojan was under huge pressure. It wasn’t the right time to say that he was leaving for the Nets. However, he always wanted to go to the NBA.
2. Last season with Fenerbahce, Bojan struggled with his long ball, an aspect of his game in which he seems to excel in. Were there any specific causes for his sudden drop off? How did he overcome his struggles to pick up his play towards the end of the season?
Senol: In Euroleague, exploiting mismatches and player weaknesses are very important. Most successful teams are often the ones that hide their weaknesses. So, if a player is underperforming, you have to look what’s wrong with the team.
In Fenerbahçe Ülker, Bojan’s backcourt partner was Bo McCalebb. Bo is one of the best European scorers in the open court, but since he’s not the best shooter, he’s having trouble with halfcourt offense. Fenerbahçe also didn’t have a low-post threat, which prevented them to combine an inside-outside game. So, opponents were focused on Bojan Bogdanovic.
He couldn’t handle the pressure and the result was bad: Bojan didn’t have a single three point field goal during his 15 attempts in four games. After all of his misses, the ball seemed to be heavier for Bojan. To give him some credit, this season Bogdanovic was used in a way he was never used before. Coach Obradovic used him as a pick-and-roll ballhandler. He improved himself, but this wasn’t his natural role, which explains his inconsistency.
3. Is it true that he was interested in playing for other NBA teams? If so, who?
Senol: No it’s not. Bojan always wanted to play for Nets. Especially after they signed Mirza Teletovic, who can speak the same language with him.
4. How much of an adjustment will Bojan have to make in the NBA? Do you think the language difference or culture shock will play a big role in his NBA career?
Senol: Bojan’s English is not bad, and he is an open minded guy. I don’t think he will experience any problems with NBA life. Long flights may be hard to adjust, but I guess any basketball player prefers to travel a lot than participating in Zeljko Obradovic’s team practices. Obradovic is famous for his two-hour long-hard practices.
5. It's been said that Bojan was kicked off the Croatian national team for not respecting curfew during training camp. Do you think this will be a problem when he comes to Brooklyn, a place that's just a bus ride away to New York City?
Senol: Believe me, you can party harder in Istanbul than New York. Bojan had some troubles in the past, but from what I see, it’s all history. With the arrival of the greatest European coach, Zeljko Obradovic, Bojan was very disciplined this season. He also has a serious relationship to his girlfriend, and I think he wants to be successful in the NBA so much that he cannot risk this.
6. Where do you think he'll excel in the NBA? Do you think the three-year holdout will have a negative effect on his game?
Senol: Bojan had the ball in his hands during his pro career. He was the star of all the teams he played. I’m very curious to see his transition to a role player. Bojan has the tools to be a great scoring role player off the bench in NBA. He is an excellent spot up shooter, who also cuts to the rim constantly. Even though he is not the fastest player in the planet, Bojan also knows how to score in the transition. He’ll contribute to these areas. Bojan also improved his post-up game in Europe, but I doubt he can use it in the NBA.
7. Is there anybody in the NBA that you can compare Bojan Bogdanovic to?
Senol: It is very hard to compare Bojan to any current NBA players, because he was the main scorer for all the teams he played for. If he can make the transition to being a role player, he’ll be a nice Carlos Delfino - type scorer off the bench.