Bojan Bogdanovic told the big Croatia sports site last month that he’s “playing the best basketball of my career.” And there’s plenty of supporting data to back up the claim.
in the final 25 games of the season without Joe Johnson, his numbers spiked from 10.4 points in 26 minutes to 15.2 points in 28 minutes. He also shot 42 percent from deep and had a magical 44-point game vs. Philly. In getting Croatia to the Olympics, he averaged 24.2 points in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Then, in Rio, he averaged 25.3, the most anyone has averaged in 20 years, breaking Drazen Petrovic’s Croatian scoring record.
So he arrived in Brooklyn raring to go, but the Nets decided they would slow him down a bit. Tuesday was the first day he scrimmaged, his routine until then limited by the performance team.
“They’re trying to put me on the court slowly. This is the first day that I participated in a scrimmage,” he told the Post’s Brian Lewis. “They know how to do it, and I’ll go day by day, slowly.”
Compare that to the last time the Nets had an Olympian return to camp. Deron Williams went from London to the Nets old practice facility —and a scrimmage— in a single afternoon. We all know how that worked out.
Despite his limited time on the court, his teammates have noticed some changes. Croatian head coach Aco Petrovic —Drazen’s brother— gave him the ball and told him the team would ride him to Rio. It seems to have changed his outlook.
“[The difference is] just his confidence, no question,’’ Brook Lopez said “That’s something we absolutely need him to show in this side.
“He’s obviously shown it in EuroLeague and in the Olympics. We need him to continue the same level of play, come out here, be confident and be that Olympic, EuroLeague self on the floor with us as well. He’s out there bodying guys, doing his thing; and we believe he can do that here as well.”
Bogdanovic also talked about his appreciation for what the Nets did this summer in sending assistant coach (and German national team coach) Chris Fleming to Croatia to work with him, citing it as evidence of change in the organization.
“They showed me right away how it’s going to be this season,’’ Bogdanovic said. “Chris spent two weeks over there with me, practicing, doing my workouts over there with my personal coach. … It was nice for him to be over there with me in my country.”
Meanwhile, Lewis reports that Greivis Vasquez, who sat out the Olympics to speed his rehab, thinks he could even play some minutes in pre-season.
“That’s up to the coaches,” said Vasquez, limited to just 23 games last season due to ankle surgery in December. “It’s too early [to say]. … I’ve been in the league for a while. What’s most important is to win games, and from the 26th all the way to April. In the meantime, preparation is important. I’m looking forward to at least getting my feet wet. I want to go out there and compete.”
Vasquez began practicing in full on Friday and played 17 minutes in Saturday’s Open Practice.