Mikhail Prokhorov's message to the fans, delivered from Moscow in a Nets t-shirt and sports jacket, was intended as a morale boost for fans. The off-season was decidedly un-Nets, with limited spending and a buyout, not a ballyhooed trade, as the big news.
But buried in the two-minute video was a line that deserves some further examination. He talked briefly about retaining "Brook and Thaddeus," which will help continuity and keeping Joe Johnson as part of the "core." The only player he really singled out for specific praise was the team's 6'8" swingman from Croatia.
"We also have high expectations for Bojan Bogdanovic, who showed us real flashes of brilliance in his first year on the Nets."
It was decidedly not a throw away line. The Nets DO have high expectations for Bogdanovic, very high expectations. In private, team officials think that Bogdanovic's second year is likely to be a big improvement, that he's now transitioned from the European game to the NBA game and from Europe to the United States.
Ian Eagle, reflecting ownership and management, spoke earlier about what the Nets expect of Bogdanovic this season.
"They expect improvement. They don't expect the Bojan Bogdanovic who was tentative at times last year, who was trying to figure out what his role was, trying to develop a niche in the NBA. It's a hard transition. We know that. By the playoffs you saw the capabilities and the way he can take over games offensively."
Those "flashes of brilliance" Prokhorov spoke of? You saw a lot of them after the All-Star Break. In the 27 games he played in the second half of the season, he shot 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from three, averaging 12 points a game. In April, when he was the Eastern Conference rookie of the month, he was even better, shooting 53 percent and 49 percent and averaging 14. And in the last game of the season, the must-win game vs. Orlando, he shot 12-of-17, including 4-of-8 from three, 28 points, his best outing of the season ... further enhancing his reputation as a big game player.
Bogdanovic's season started Wednesday in Croatia when the national team played New Zealand in a "friendly" game, the first of nine before FIBA Eurobasket. He didn't play due to restrictions on NBA players, but we'll be watching for "flashes of brilliance" when he does.