104 days. That’s how many stand between today and one of my favorite events of the year: The NBA Draft.
March Madness is just getting underway, which means there is still a lot of basketball to be played before the draft hopefuls shift their attention to all the preparations for the event.
As the draft approaches, I’ll be bringing you a number of profiles of young players that may find themselves in a Hawks’ uniform next season. To get started, let’s take a look at Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Bogdan, standing at 6’6″ 200 pounds, is one of the older international prospects expected to enter the draft this year. The 21 year old currently plays for Partizan, the Serbian Euroleague team in Belgrade. Bogdan has been on NBA scout’s radar since 2010, when he first signed with Partizan, and has considered entering the draft the past few seasons. He is considered to be on the Hawks’ radar among a number of teams, as Hawks’ GM Danny Ferry was rumored to be present at a Partizan-Cibona game in early February to watch Bogdanovic as well as Cibona forward Dario Saric.
Bogdan currently sits in the 26th spot in DraftExpress’ 2014 mock draft, but there is some worry that he will never come over due to potentially better offers from some of the top teams in Europe. The prospect of him staying overseas will likely cause his draft stock to slip as June approaches, but a favorable buyout clause in his current contract will allow NBA teams to attempt to outbid European teams if he falls into the second round.
Bogdan has been one of the key performers for Partizan this season, as he has stepped into the role of running the offense after the team lost French point guard Leo Westermann to a knee injury back in November. In 18 Euroleague appearances, Bogdan has averaged 16.3 points 3.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 31.6 minutes a game. His shooting numbers have been average this season, but he has consistently shown an impressive range, sometimes 2 or 3 feet behind the FIBA three point line, which is about a foot and a half shorter from the basket than the NBA arc. His role as the primary ballhandler has had its ups and downs, as he is averaging a high number of turnovers, 3.3 a game, and is leading the team in field goal attempts at 13.4 a game in Euroleague action. Nonetheless, Bogdan has shown a lot of potential as a scorer, and if he can adjust to a lesser role in the NBA, would see a lot of success on the offensive end.
His defensive ability is a bit more of a question mark for the next level. His physical attributes are positive signs as he appears to have the strength needed to guard NBA talent, and his above average wingspan, listed at 6’11”, gives him an edge over many shooting guards in the NBA. The intangibles of his defensive play are where most of the worry comes into play. Bogdan’s effort on that end of the floor has been suspect at times and his technique would also need work.
Bogdan’s fit with the Hawks is less of a worry, even with a lot of unknowns as to what the team may look like when the next season arrives. Hawks’ fans may be reminded a little of Joe Johnson when watching the Serbian, but his athleticism in comparison to Joe is a step down. Manu Ginobili seems like a better comparison for the young guard. Bogdanovic and Ginobili share some similarities physically as they both are listed at 6’6″ and are around 200 pounds. Ginobili’s numbers in Italy before he joined the Spurs in 2003 also share a number of commonalities with Bogdanovic as Ginobili shot 44.8% from the field and 31% from three in two seasons in Italy. Bodgan is a bit lower from the field than Ginobili at 42.1%, but is closer to Manu’s NBA averages from three at 38.7% in Euroleague play. The similarities between the two should leave nobody surprised that the Hawks have interest in the Serbian as he could fit right into the sixth man role Ginobili has occupied for the Spurs the past few seasons.
With the Lou Williams’ future with the Hawks now looking uncertain, Bogdan could be the future Sixth Man for the team. The new Hawks front office has already shown evidence of the draft and stash technique with Lucas Noguiera and Mike Muscala, however the pursuit of Bogdan by top European teams may make that difficult for the front office as the new team could deny any contract buyout which would allow the Hawks to bring him over in the future. Therefore, if Bogdan is selected by the Hawks in June, he will most likely be on the roster in 2014-15. His draft stock will probably force the Hawks to look to move up in the second round if they wish to acquire his services, but his potential as a scorer may be worth it.
Overall, Bodgan would be a great addition to Atlanta if he is willing to take a role on the bench, and with the Hawks’ efforts to continue to develop their players, he could eventually take the starting shooting guard spot assuming no established shooting guard such as Lance Stephenson is in his way.