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The Crazy Summer of Bojan Bogdanovic

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Bojan Bogdanovic reportedly flew into New York today, ending a crazy summer that included record performances in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the Olympics, as well as escape from a coup in Turkey.

FIBA

From setting records in the Olympics to escaping a Turkish coup on a speedboat, Bojan Bogdanovic had quite the summer.

The hot play didn't come out of the blue. The Turkish coup, well, you figure that out for yourself.

His stellar play was a carryover effect from the regular season when Lionel Hollins found his way out of Brooklyn and opportunities arose with Brooklyn's waiver of Joe Johnson.

His three-point percentage of 32 percent under Hollins spiked to 42 percent under Tony Brown. The Nets weren't much better under Brown, but the offense certainly was. He tweaked the sluggish Brooklyn offense and had guys moving on and off the ball. By no surprise, Bogdanovic averaged 12.6 points under Brown after averaging 9.5 points under Hollins.

Prior to Joe Johnson's departure, Bogdanovic averaged 10.4 points in nearly 26 minutes per game. In the final 25 games of the season without Johnson, his numbers jumped to 15.2 points in 28 minutes. He also shot 42 percent from deep. Less isolation, more ball movement and even more opportunities.

Nobody expected him to put up those numbers.

In the Olympic Qualifiers, Bogie proved himself as an elite scorer yet again, averaging 24.3 points per game. That's more than Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli and Giannis Antetokounmpo, all of whose teams fell to Croatia.  How big was Bogie. He scored a third of the Croatians' points.

Gallinari recently spoke about how upset he was when Croatia beat Italy to get into the Olympics before 15,000 mostly Italian fans in Turin.  It was an overtime game that got Croatia a ticket to Rio. Bogdanovic scored 26, including the dagger three. Gallinari finished with eight, Belinelli 18.

After the game, 76ers young star-to-be Dario Saric told reporters, "Bojan is our best player."

Nobody expected that.

Shortly after, Bojan was taking some time after leading Croatia to a berth in the Olympics. He and his girlfriend had settled into Turkey's Bodrum peninsula on the Aegan sea.

He posted a short video on Instagram of a nice vacation spot in Turkey with the caption:

"Easy... A few days of rest before continuing the mission to Rio".

That didn't last long. Bogdanovic was forced to leave and escape Turkey via boat, crossing the Aegan to the Greek Island of Rhodes with the help of his agent and Greek team officials on the Rhodes end.

Turkey's president, Recep Erdogan, was staying nearby Bogdanovic, and as the military coup began, Turkish air force planes flew low overhead and Erdogan claims dropped bombs on the hotel where plotters believed he was staying.

A few days later, after three "friendly" games --exhibition games-- Bogdanovic was in Rio for the Olympics.

None of what he witnessed in Turkey apparently fazed him. He averaged 25.3 points, the highest in the Olympics in Rio; the highest in any Olympics over the past 20 years; the highest ever for a Nets player in international play and then highest ever in Croatian Olympic history, the latter two distinctions previously held by Drazen Petrovic, his longtime idol.

Say it with me... Nobody expected that.

What was the difference? It might have been some advice Chris Fleming, the Nets second assistant who's also the German national team coach.  Before the qualifying tournament, Fleming flew to Zagreb to impart some advice.

"We talked a lot what I should improve in my game," Bogdanovic told Sportske Novosti, Croatia's big sports publication. "He said me how to be more consistent in spot up shooting coming from screens. Also, I should post up more, because I did that a lot in Europe, but not in NBA."

Sounds like it worked.  As Hoops Habit noted, after averaging 1.5 trips to the game during his two seasons in Brooklyn, Bogdanovic lived at the foul line in Turin and Rio, averaging 10.5 free throws in the the qualifying round and 9.3 in the Olympics, both highs in those competitions. Remember, too, these are 40-minute games.

Now comes the hard part: the NBA. Not that Bogdanovic has disappointed, but he hasn't been as consistent as the Nets would've liked. No matter. He has a huge chance to succeed this year and the Nets know it.

If the Nets practice what they've preached in constant movement on AND off the ball, Bogdanovic should thrive. Not to mention if Kenny Atkinson gives him free rein on offense, it would come as (little) surprise to those who watched do the things that made him one of the most valuable players of FIBA competition this summer.

Aside from his phenomenal summer overseas, there are more incentives this year. His agent wanted this coming season as a player option. Nets refused but added 15% trade kicker as a compromise. He has a chance to make a lot of money --a LOT of money-- this upcoming summer and it very well may be with the Nets, whom have made it clear that Bogie is a part of its future.

Don't believe it?

He does, citing Fleming's trip to Zagreb. "That's proof for me that Nets have big plans for me in next season."  In the same Sportske Novosti interview, Bogdanovic disputed an ESPN story (one of many) that project the Nets the worst team in the league this coming season.

Instead, he said he expects the Nets to contend for the playoffs.

Nobody's expecting that either.