Pacers

Bojan Bogdanović: NBA’s Most Underrated Star

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Enter Bogey

In the absence of injured All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers remain afloat in an Eastern Conference that is very competitive from the third to sixth. The Pacers’ success is in no small part due to the emergence of Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanović as a legitimate primary scoring option.

Although Bogdanović (Bogey, as Pacers fans call him) has been a solid player for years, it is with Indiana that he shows the full extent of his capabilities as an offensive player. In 75 games this season, Bogey is averaging career highs in just about every single statistical category. He puts up 18/4/2 on any given night on around 50% (!) shooting from the field and 43% from three. He is also averaging a career high in minutes per game, as he is a necessity on the floor more than he’s ever been in his career.

History Of Success

Bogdanović, born April 18th, 1989, started his basketball career in 2004. He first played for his hometown Zrinjski Mostar basketball club for one season. He also played for Real Madrid’s junior team, Real Madrid B, until 2009, taking a short stint with CB Murcia for the 2008-09 season. In August of 2009, Bogdanović signed a 3-year extension with Croatian basketball club Cibona Zagreb, then left after the 2010-11 season. On June 19th, 2011, Bogdanović signed a multi-year deal with Fenerbahçe Ülker. The Heat selected him 31st in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was later traded to the Timberwolves and then to the Nets on draft night, and would play for Fenerbahçe Ülker from 2012 to 2014. After this, he finally launched his NBA career by signing a 3-year, $10 million dollar contract with the Nets.

As A Pacer

After a stint in Brooklyn, Bogdanović was traded to Washington, where he remained until the 2017 offseason. He has been with Indiana ever since. In perhaps the most notable game of his career he helped the Pacers surge past the LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers in a wild Game 3 comeback victory. Bogey dropped 30 points, including a barrage of late-game threes that sent Bankers Life Fieldhouse into a frenzy. The Pacers would eventually lose the series in seven games to the Finals-bound Cavs, but the situation looked great in Indiana.

This season, which Oladipo has mostly missed, the Pacers rely heavily on Bogdanovic to shoulder most of the scoring load. When he’s locked in, he’s almost unstoppable. Earlier this season, he dropped 37 points in 29 minutes in a seven-point win over the Timberwolves. Just last Sunday, he dropped 35 points in 25 minutes in a crushing 36 point win over the Nuggets. The unfortunate fact about Bogdanovic’s season is that he isn’t necessarily getting the recognition he deserves. Despite this, Bogey, like the Indiana Pacers, is used to being slept on.

Free Agency?

One big question mark on Indiana’s upcoming offseason is Bogey’s impending free agency. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season at the age of thirty. It seems half of the fan base wants the Pacers to let him walk and commit the money to a younger individual. The other half wants to try and sign him to a multi-year contract and keep him in blue and gold. Ultimately, the decision to re-sign will be between Indiana’s front office and Bogdanovic. But the case for the Pacers to try and keep him is better than ever.

Busting Stereotypes

In many ways, Bogdanović has broken the stigma surrounding European prospects in the NBA. Supposedly, they’re unathletic and cannot handle American competition. Bogey is a sneaky good athlete and can get to the hoop with the best of them. He also has a very quick release on his shot, which allows him to shoot over much taller players. Not to mention, Bogdanović is extremely effective from deep. He currently sits at ninth in the NBA in 3-point percentage. Although not the greatest on-ball defender in the league, his defensive IQ is very high, and his size allows him to defend 1-4 relatively effectively, in most cases.

Bogdanović’s game fits within virtually any scheme. Therefore, he will likely hear offers from many teams. Expect the criminally underrated Bogdanović to get paid accordingly this offseason.

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