The national NBA media (Zach Lowe at ESPN, looking at you) loves to make the case that the Philadelphia 76ers are better than they in fact are, and on some level, it’s hard to blame them.
There are only so many hours in a day, and while League Pass opens up the full slate of NBA games every night, the teams that get national attention on ESPN and TNT are the teams that national writers tend to notice the most.
Regular readers of this publication notice this trend at breakfast; if Twitter’s talking about it, any writer who has even a minimal interest in getting traffic writes about the big national stories.
But where this gets outright ridiculous is when those same national writers claim J.J. Redick is an All-Star candidate in the East.
Because Redick’s main draw as an All-Star—he’s a solid wing shooter and floor spacer for a Sixers offense that tends to look like a clogged toilet at time since Ben Simmons has no shooting range whatsoever and it forces him to get in Joel Embiid‘s way—is a compelling case, but if you want to put someone in the All-Star Game for being a wing shooter and floor spacer, Redick is like putting ketchup on that trout you caught fresh at your campsite compared to the guy who’s more like the best meunière sauce you’ve ever had.
The meunière is Bojan Bogdanovic, as you probably figured out yourself from the title. Let’s take this in three easy pieces, shall we?
The Wing Shooter
Bogdanovic is shooting 44.6 percent from three. Redick is shooting 37.4 percent, and Redick, because Brett Brown is at least as good of an offensive coach than Nate McMillan, shoots more three-pointers (7.8 a game compared to 4.4) despite shooting them less efficiently.
Give Bojan another 3.4 threes a game and let him hit 44.6 percent of them and that’s five points a game from a guy who averages 16.2 as the third option in his team’s offense.
And sure, I might be willing to buy the argument that shooting volume and efficiency are inversely related, but don’t try and tell me that Redick’s .555 3PAR is something that would make Bojan (3PAR: .384) less efficient.
Bogdanovic gets to the rim and shoots from 3 feet and in 27.1 percent of the time (where he makes 70.6 percent of them, because those shots are often accomplished by the ballhandler finding Bojan cutting behind a defender falling asleep on the play.) That still leaves 35 percent of his shots either as floaters on aborted drives (14.3 percent between 3 and 10 feet) or lousy midrange shots (20.2 percent of his attempts between 10 feet and the arc.)
Redick can’t get to the rim to save his life (he shoots just 9 percent of his shots within 3 feet of the basket), but let’s forgive him that because of the Embiid and Simmons problem.
Redick actually takes way too many midrange shots and especially long 2s for such an efficient 3-point gunner (24.1 percent of his shots are from that range, and while he’s hitting an insane 53.4 percent of them, that’s still a lower eFG% than if he took all of those shots from three and hit 37.4 percent of them (eFG%: .561.)
What’s my overall point? Well, when you add up all the stats, Bojan has an overall eFG% of .586 and Redick is at .547, and even if Redick took 80 percent of his shots from three-point land, he’d still be less efficient.
Ergo, Bojan Bogdanovic is a much better wing shooter than is J.J. Redick
The Floor Spacer
OK, here’s where we get into eye test stuff, and it’s also where comparing Bogdanovic’s role to Redick’s becomes apples to oranges.
But let’s look at how the Pacers use Bojan, and not with our eyes but with “this is the shot chart and this is Bojan’s place on it.”
Bogdanovic takes 11.5 shots and 4.4 threes a game. Victor Oladipo takes 16.7 and 6.2, respectively.
To no great surprise, 90.5 percent of Bojan’s threes are assisted. His game is a lot like Klay Thompson‘s both with and without the ball. He’s not there to dribble. He’s there to get to a spot, take a pass from a teammate who’s distracted the defense, and score.
Redick does this too, but he’s just nowhere near as good at it. He’s hitting just 66 percent from three feet and in, the result of a lot of those same looks that Bogey gets, and Redick only gets them a third as often.
Fully 93.4 percent of Redick’s threes are assisted. He’s not coming off screens either. He’s getting to a spot and hitting, and in his case it’s Simmons or Embiid rather than Oladipo or Myles Turner. New names, same great taste.
So you can’t say Redick’s a better floor spacer when (a) Bogdanovic does all the same things, plus he’s much better at losing his defender on a backdoor cut, and (b) Bogey shoots a higher percentage both at the rim and from three, and all the midrange jumpers in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans as a result.
But oh by the way, if you must insist on making something out of a long two like it’s a good shot, Bogdanovic is making 51.4 percent of them. It’s not like he misses whenever he steps into no man’s land.
Ergo, Bojan Bogdanovic is a better floor spacer than J.J. Redick.
Oh, and One Other Thing:
Bogdanovic isn’t a good defender. His defensive advanced stats are mediocre to poor (a -1.1 Defensive Box Plus-Minus, middling 109 Defensive Rating on a team that’s the third-best in the league and probably keeping that number down, and just 1.6 Defensive Win Shares), but Redick’s are atrocious (a 115 DRtg that’s cover-your-eyes awful, a -3.8 DBPM that’s among the worst in the entire league, and a paltry 0.6 DWS.)
Small wonder Bogdanovic has 0.7 VORP while Redick is barely better than a G-Leaguer at 0.2.
The simple fact is that Bogdanovic doesn’t fritter away his offensive benefit by being a huge liability when the other team has the ball the way Redick does.
In every single aspect of playing the sport of professional basketball, Bojan Bogdanovic is better than J.J. Redick. But since he doesn’t have Redick’s media savvy, and since Bogey’s “dad bod” is the subject of affectionate teasing by Pacers fans, and since the national media couldn’t name anyone on the Pacers other than Oladipo, Turner, and Domantas Sabonis, Redick gets Zach Lowe claiming he’s an All-Star while Bogey just goes out there and makes three-pointers and cuts to the rim for easy deuces.
Bojan Bogdanovic is better than J.J. Redick. Tell Zach Lowe, tell Charles Barkley, tell Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith while you’re wrapped in the Croatian flag.
The Pacers play Philadelphia Thursday night on national TV. It should be a fun matchup to watch.