Bojan Bogdanovic looked like a completely new player in the final weeks of his rookie season, notching the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award in April after averaging 14.4 points on 53 percent shooting overall and 49 percent from deep.
After an up and down year, it looked like Bogie had finally turned the page. Nets officials certainly believed so, as we've heard throughout the offseason the hefty expectations they have for him. But after a shaky preseason, it's uncertain which Bogdanovic we'll see by opening night.
Bogdanovic was 5-of-20 from the field and 2-of-11 from 3-point range heading into Monday's preseason finale vs. Boston. He improved those numbers Tuesday, going 6-of-13 overall and 2-of-6 from three. His 18 points in 41 minutes was easily his best performance. Still, there's concern that something's been off with him. Maybe it's just , an ankle injury he suffered in the 2015 EuroBasket.
"What does he have to improve? I think one, he's got to get his foot better, and he's also got to get his conditioning better," Lionel Hollins told Tim Bontemps. "I think he's a little tired from playing all summer, and then he hurt his ankle, which has been bothering him all through preseason."
Bojan himself would never admit that the ankle injury could be causing an inauspicious start to his second year
"It's almost OK," Bogdanovic told Bontemps. "It's going to take a couple more days, but I feel so much better... I can play normally. There's no problem anymore."
In addition to a sprained ankle, Bogdanovic suffered a concussion while playing in the 2015 EuroBasket for his homeland Croatia. And while he says he's OK, there's plenty of reasons for concern after Bogdanovic played a year straight of basketball with minimal time to rest. Overall, he played 15 games this summer between "friendly" exhibition games and the Eurobasket.
"Maybe that is one of the reasons I'm not in good shape, but I also had my good days," Bogdanovic said of his offseason. "I have to keep working, trying to improve."
There's also the psychological impact of Croatia faltering during the FIBA Europe tournament. In Media Day interviews, he admitted the highly competitive Bogdanovic admitted he was still suffering.
After such a positive ending to his rookie season, Bogdanovic seemed like a lock for Lionel Hollins' starting five come Opening Night, but after the shaky preseason showing, his starting status is in question -- especially after a solid showing from his expected backup, Wayne Ellington. Ellington shot 45 percent from 3-point in five preseason games, while Bogdanovic barely cracked 24 percent.
No matter to Bogie, though, as he's accepted whatever role is given to him.
"It doesn't matter if I am going to come off the bench or if I am going to be a starter, " Bogdanovic said.
Whatever his role may be, he just wants the ball in his hands. But for Hollins and the Nets to trust him with it, he's going to have to get healthy. The Nets really can't afford for him not to.
Nets are getting a worn-down version of Bojan Bogdanovic - Tim Bontemps - New York Post