Bojan Bogdanovic Is Making The Leap

Bojan Bogdanovic, Indiana’s Bosnian small forward, came to the Pacers after having spent the first three seasons of his career as one of the worst starters in the NBA.

During his time with Brooklyn, a span of over 200 games and 5,000 minutes, Bogdanovic managed a negative-1.1 VORP, .056 Win Shares per 48 minutes, an 11.7 PER, and a general inability to guard any NBA starter-level forward in the league. He was terrible, and at some point you have to ask yourself if it’s the lousy team he was on or just that the man himself was part of the problem and part of the reason Brooklyn was lousy in the first place.

Fast forward to now, however, and Bogie is putting up a .524/.484/.829 slash line, a three-point percentage good enough for fourth in the entire NBA, a .642 eFG% good for sixth, a 120.4 Offensive Rating good for 18th, and an overall FG% good for 20th.

Put another way, Bogdanovic is evolving into a legitimate star.

You could say his renaissance started on the bench in Washington; given the chance to back up Otto Porter rather than have to be the front man for the team, Bogie managed to improve his basic stats in every area, especially adjusted for pace. He went from 44.1 percent to 45.7 from the field, 36.6 to 39.1 from three, and from 21.7 points per 100 possessions to 27.1.

But what did that really tell us other than Bogdanovic probably had Sixth Man of the Year as his absolute ceiling, a Euro version of Jamal Crawford rather than a Robert Covington or Kyle Anderson scoring third option type.

Yet that’s exactly what he’s become for the Pacers—a solid scoring third, or even a second option. Victor Oladipo is the straw that stirs the drink, Myles Turner is the emerging star in the middle (or at least he will be if he shakes the rest of the cobwebs off his concussion), and sometimes Bogie is the fourth or fifth option depending on what Thaddeus Young and Darren Collison are doing that day.

Bogdanovic, at 14.9 points per game, is the team’s second-leading scorer. Account for minutes and he drops to third behind Domantas Sabonis among rotation players, but the point is that he has massively exceeded expectations, doing on a team on pace for 46 wins something he could be reliably counted upon not to do for a team that gifted the Boston Celtics a pair of top-3 draft picks with Bogie patrolling the 3 spot on the floor.

We have watched a guy whose stats wouldn’t pass muster in the Letter League manage to wake up. We’ve watched a guy for whom an average game was about 5-of-11 from the field turn into a guy who’s exceeding his career average by 7.5 percentage points.

At some point, you have to stop saying it’s about sample size. Bogdanovic has played 542 minutes across 18 games at this point. And no, that’s not a full season. But almost 200 shots attempted is a statistically meaningful sample to start speculating about the new normal.

Bojan Bogdanovic is good. If you try to tell me you saw this coming, unless your name is Kevin Pritchard (and possibly even then), I’m going to say you’re lying to me. Who’d-a thunk it?