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For Nets, a different way of doing things

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Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Brian Lewis of the Post caught up with Bojan Bogdanovic in Brooklyn and the Nets shooting guard, full of confidence from his Olympic success, predicted the black-and-white will make the playoffs!

"I think we can,’’ Bogdanovic told the Post. "They can write what they want. … But we’re going to work hard to give it our best. When we get in a game, we have a chance to beat anybody. It’s going to be tough, but if we play like we practice, we have a chance."

Bold words indeed for a member of the team most pick for worst or second worst in the NBA. But he’s said that before back in the summer when a Croatian writer quoted him trashing ESPN’s predictions.

Bogdanovic told Lewis something else as well. We’ve known since June that Chris Fleming, the Nets offensive coach (and German national team coach) had visited Bogdanovic in Zagreb to offer some ideas about his game.

What we didn’t know until now is that Fleming spent two weeks working out with Bogdanovic before he exploded, first in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, then the Olympics. Bogdanovic appreciated the visit.

"He came before we started Qualifying, so I worked out with him for a couple weeks,’’ Bogdanovic told Lewis. "That was a great time to spend with him to get to know each other, what’s going on in Brooklyn, how we’re going to play and what we’re going to do this season."

"We worked on my ball handling. I know I can and have to improve many aspects of my game. I have to play more in the low post like I did in Rio. There are many things I have to work on, [like] my consistency. I had many ups and downs."

That’s not the way the Nets did things in the past. And it’s not the first time we’ve learned how the team went out of its way to test and develop a player.

Around the same time that was happening, the Nets were doing much the same with Anthony Bennett, except in Brooklyn. No quick signing, but a patient, professional approach: working him out at a mini-camp, then having him come into the HSS Training Center on a daily basis.

"This summer, we had him in our gym for three weeks, so we got to observe him on a daily basis," Kenny Atkinson said back in mid-July. They also facilitated his tour with the Canadian national team. Fleming was also on hand when Team Canada played Team Croatia in a "friendly" game that saw Bennett score 21 and Bogdanovic 24.

It would be easy to say "little things mean a lot," but this, like the Bennett signing, aren’t little things. They’re big things that matter to players.