In an interview just before he departed Croatia last week for the U.S., Bojan Bogdanovic told Sportske Novosti, the Croatian sports site, that starting with last season, after Joe Johnson left the Nets and through his Olympic summer, he’s playing the best basketball of his career.
“Starting with those two months after Joe Johnson left the Nets, this summer has been my best period of playing basketball,” he said. “I got a lot of confidence, Aco (Petrovic, the Croatian national team coach and Drazen’s older brother) gave it to me by his actions giving me freedom to attack, and from teammates.”
As Dario Saric, the 76ers rookie, told the media after Bogdanovic’s dagger in overtime of the win that got Croatia into the Olympics, “Bojan is our best player.” And Saric won the MVP award in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The numbers, starting with the 25 games the Nets played without Johnson, back up Bogdanovic’s claim. He averaged 15.2 points for the Nets, shooting 42.5 percent from deep. In the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, he averaged 24.2 points in four games, the highest in the tournament. Then, in the Olympics, he averaged 25.3 (and shot 45 percent from three) in six games, the high for the 2016 Olympics as well as the highest for a Nets player ... and a Croatian Olympian.
“With those two months in the NBA at the end of last year's season, this summer has definitely been the best period of his career. “
The writer also asked Bogdanovic about assuming a leadership role with the national team, something he had never done before. He agreed that at least in Croatia, he was happy to do so along with other older members of the national team.
“We realized that we are the ones who need to raise our voice in the locker room, do all that we could throughout these Games. Who knows when it'll be back opportunity,” he said.
On Team USA, Bogdanovic noted that “No one (other than the Americans) will be a competitor for gold for many years, the way things are..” Still, he pointed out that NBA teams “who have all the scouts ... with so much insight into all the world... [recognize] the talents of our country” citing the three Croatians -- all big men— who were drafted in June.
““hey will in a few years wear the national team uniform with a few of us, who God willing, will still be there. I will still play that game.”