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Basketball philosophy

Bogdan Bogdanovic: Similar to Joe Johnson?

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Bogdan Bogdanovic is currently rated in my top 3 talents in the 2014 draft. Why do I rate him as a potential star?

A comparison to Joe Johnson show how his upside is high

Feel for the Game

What I rate as Bogdanovic’s greatest strength is also one of Johnson’s. He has an exceptional feel. I use fluidity, balance and how “easy” the game looks to a player, to help me rate feel for the game. The difference between players I rate a very good grade of 7-8 in the category or an elite one like 9 or 10, is the former look fluid when they drive to the basket or in the post. Whereas elite ones have this fluidity jump off the page in nearly every play they make.

Observe this clip by Bogdanovic:

To me the fluidity and balance he shows in this clip is outstanding and in the league of Dario Saric and Kyle Anderson, the most masterful feel for the game talents in this draft. Bogdanovic is a prospect where seeing the feel for the game is easy.

Physical tools

Bogdanovic’s physical tools can be compared to Johnson. The closest update Draftexpress.com has for now is a 2010 Eurocamp measurement when he was 17, but Bogdanovic still measured out at 6‘6.35 in shoes with 6’11 wingspan and 8‘8.33 standing reach, excellent length for a SG. He weighed 200 pounds at the time but can presume he’s gained more weight since then. Judging from photos and videos his frame is impressive.

Joe Johnson was never the most athletic wing at his position, however he had enough speed that when added to strong ballhandling skills, he could drive to the basket at a slightly above average level. I believe Bogdanovic’s ability to drive could be similar or close to it.

Johnson has typically been a strong perimeter defender, due to having the lateral mobility when added to his length, strength and feel to excel. I’m impressed by Bogdanovic’s lateral mobility as well. Check the “lateral quickness” section and further defensive sections to help show this starting at 1:21 in this clip:

I see length, strength and lateral mobility as making up for other holes physically. If you take a player who has average offensive athleticism, but make him strong, long and laterally mobile, instead of an average physical talent he becomes well above average. Some prospects like Johnson, Kawhi Leonard, Luol Deng really benefit from this. This could be the case for Bogdan despite not having all the speed in the world driving to the basket.

Skill level

This is a major sticking point for whether Bogdanovic has the upside to be as good as Joe Johnson. Bogdanovic made strides as a shooter this year hitting 37.0% from 3 on 5.9 attempts a game in the Euroleague. However, a few areas of concern is that he only hit 75.4% from the FT line, which is a % that typically makes me rate NCAA prospects a non-shoo in outside shooter. His 3 point %s in previous seasons were also not as strong.

With that said. It’s hard to fake 37% on nearly 6 attempts a game in the best non-NBA competition in the world. Like the NCAA 3 point like the Euroleague’s 3 is not as far out, however it’s closer. The NBA 3 point line’s arc radius is 23 feet 9 inches, the Euroleague’s is 22 feet 1 inch and the NCAA’s is 20 feet 9 inches. Overall I’m more inclined to trust a Euroleague player’s 3pt% than an NCAA player’s.

Joe Johnson’s skill level of course extends past 3 point shooting. He is a tremendous midrange shooter and post creator, while being one of the best passing SGs or SFs in the league. Bogdanovic has the chance to get there as a passer, averaging 3.7 assists in 31.4 minutes in the Euroleague and I read recently he filled in at point guard for a stretch of his season. From December 5th to the end of the season, he averaged 4.4 assists a game.

His midrange and post skill is a bigger question mark. His height and potential strength advantage over SGs would help, however it’s unclear whether he is just very good at creating and shooting from midrange, or shooting jumpshots off the dribble. Certainly his 3 point stroke should give him the potential to add the mid-game, but I’ve learned 3 point shooting and midrange ability do not always align in linear ways. For example James Harden is great at hitting 3s but not the midrange, while Demar Derozan is the opposite. Right now Bogdanovic’s skill game is more reminiscent of Harden’s than Joe Johnson, as an outside shooter and passer more than an in between player.

Notably, Bogdanovic has enough length where if he can’t use his size at the 2 guard spot to improve his game effectively, he may be better served as a SF in the modern NBA. At SF good 3 point shooting and passing is slightly more rare, while his lateral mobility, already seemingly good for a 2 guard, would be even more exceptional at the 3.

While I don’t feel Bogdanovic’s skill is as strong as some prospects in this class, such as say Nik Stauskas, he still projects to have 3 point range, passing skill and potentially the size to post up 2 guards. Thus he rates as an above average skill talent SG or SF  for me.

Overall

Bogdan Bogdanovic and Joe Johnson are not clones and he is not a sure thing to be a all-star like Joe. I feel Bogdanovic’s feel for the game, length and lateral mobility is more impressive than Johnson’s, but Johnson’s strength and skill level thanks to his in between game is superior. However I hope this post made it more clear how a prospect considered a role player to most on other draft boards, could be rated as a star or near it on my board. Bogdanovic’s elite feel for the game and great size for a 2 guard, is a rare and sought after combination on the wing. He has enough speed and athleticism to be average to above average getting to the basket and splitting the defense, along with the lateral mobility, length and feel to be a plus defender, if not outstanding one. Finally the signs are there from a skill perspective, as a good 3 point shooter who can pass. It’s conceivable his perimeter scoring game disappoints, but it’s also conceivable I understated him in the area and he becomes as good a shooter and passer out there as Johnson and Harden have been, which could really put him over as a star. When added together at least a heavy chunk of what has made Joe Johnson, James Harden, Paul Pierce great, could apply to Bogdanovic.

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Written by jr.

May 16, 2014 at 9:33 am

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