Bojan Bogdanovic's start to his rookie season is a player representation of how the Brooklyn Nets season has gone.
There have been good moments, bad moments and even some ugly moments, but it hasn't been all consistent for the Euro-league star and his first crack at the NBA. As we've seen this season, 13 times to be exact, coach Lionel Hollins has changed the starting lineups and proven to be inconsistent with his rotations. It appears to be an identity crisis for the team and a role crisis for the players.
"In the beginning of the season I was a starter and played a lot of minutes, but then coach lost some confidence in me and I also lost confidence in myself so he put me on the bench," Bogdanovic told NetsDaily. "Now, again, I play a lot of minutes so I found my spot on the team and I hope that I can show to everybody that I can play even better than I am now."
It shows his optimism, but it brings up the question, what exactly is his role this season? Or better yet, what is anybody's role on this team?
Just ask Bogdanovic, whose actually played well when he starts on a constant basis. Through 46 games played, Bogdanovic has started in 27 of them and has averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 42.5% shooting. That's not too shabby for a rookie.
He scored 12 points in his second appearance, then later knocked home 22 points three games later. He matched that career-high a week later in Miami, where he scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He scored in double digits in five of his first 10 games in the NBA. That screams potential.
However, Bogdanovic hit a rough spot and became too inconsistent for Hollins to depend upon. The problem was, Bogie would go for double digits one game, but score five points in 23 minutes the next. He was being taken in and out of the starting lineup, and it wasn't something he was accustomed to. In November, he averaged 10 points; December, he averaged 5.4 points with a 14 minute drop off.
Even in the last five games his minutes have been up and down, in order: 13,24,13,40,18. There was certainly a drop off in his play, but perhaps Bogdanovic isn't accustomed to being benched after a poor performance. Last July, we asked Euro-League writer Ismail Senol about Bogdnaovic's career in Turkey, here's what he said:
"Bojan didn't have a single three point field goal during his 15 attempts in four games (2013/2014 season with Fenerbahce). 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."
Whether it be a drop off in his play and/or Hollins' decision to cut his minutes, it's clear that Bogdanovic wasn't as comfortable as he was in November.
There's always the possibility that he shows signs of improvement. In the last two games, he's averaged 11 points and four rebounds on 47% in 29 minutes. He ranks seventh in rookie scoring at 7.5 points per game, tied with Nikola Mirotic, but at roughly 12 minutes less than the leading rookie scorer Andrew Wiggins. Other than Bogdanovic & Mirotic, the only other top 10 rookie scorers on a playoff contending team is Jabari Parker, who's out for the season.
Bogdanovic's most recent accomplishment includes an invite to the NBA Rising Star Challenge during All-Star Weekend where he'll play in front of his home crowd at the Barclays Center.
"This is a great opportunity. It gives me a lot of confidence for the coaches to pick me as one of the ten players. It’s great for me and I have to continue to play better than I am right now."
It hasn't been easy for Bogie, though. Although he made the 'World Team' in the Rising Stars challenge, it's been tough to adjust his game from Europe. "There’s a lot of adjustments," Bogdanovic told NetsDaily. "The ball is different in Europe, the three point line, the defense, too many offenses, and too many things that NBA players and NBA teams are doing automatically; the first time I saw this was this summer. There’s not many things that are easy, but I think I’ve adjusted in a good way."
His most recent adjustment was losing his best friend on the team for the rest of the season. Mirza Teletovic, teammate and country native of Boganovic, was deemed out for the season after doctors found blood clots in his lungs during halftime of a Nets-Clippers game.
The two share neighboring lockers in the locker room and since day one of the preseason, Teletovic and Bogdanovic have done a daily shoot-around together two hours before every game. Senol also told us how Teletovic was one of the main reasons Bogie signed with the Nets.
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.
Bogdanovic discussed how Mirza will be missed, but also how the Nets aren't doomed without him.
"He [Mirza] was one of the best shooters on the team and he stretches the floor, especially as a four. We’re going to miss him a lot but we have too many good players that we have to make the playoffs."
He seems pretty optimistic. After all, he's a top 10 rookie during a year the Nets didn't have a first round pick, and he's certainly shown signs of potential. He's owed more than $3.2 million over the next three years with a qualifying offer for the fourth year. Its Bogie's first 82-game season and he appears ready to tackle the second half of the season as the Nets make a playoff push.
It should be interesting to see if he has a legitimate role under Hollins, if any, come the end of April. After all, he's unsure what his role has been thus far, and nobody can be certain whether he'll be starting in the next game or riding the end of the bench.
It's the coach's call.