The Atlanta Hawks were in trouble before Bogdan Bogdanovic came back from injury two games before the All-Star break. They were in 11th position in the Eastern Conference standings and the front office had just installed interim coach Nate McMillan after firing Lloyd Pierce.
Well, the numbers from that moment look fantastic for the Hawks. McMillan won the Eastern Conference coach of the month award for March with a 9-4 record. They now have a 14-5 record after their most recent win against the Charlotte Hornets.
What was most impressive about this win was that the Hawks were missing Kris Dunn, Danilo Gallinari, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, John Collins, Tony Snell, and Trae Young. Every member of the opening night starting five is on this list. The only two regular starters playing were Bogdanovic and Clint Capela.
What is different about the Atlanta Hawks with Bogdan Bogdanovic playing.
At the start of the season, Pierce had Bogdanovic basically playing as a floor spacer so that Young could create. It is no wonder Bogdanovic was struggling with his shot. While he is a tremendous spot-up shooter, Bogdanovic is so much better when he is able to create his own shot as well.
Coach McMillan has utilized Bogdanovic as a secondary playmaker and this enables him to work his way to the elbow where he is automatic. This means there is less pressure on his shot because he is hitting the scoreboard regularly.
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This has meant that the opposition cannot gameplan to just stop Young, they have to try and stop both members of the backcourt on a nightly basis. This has freed up Young and both guards are good enough to take their opportunities which are then presented.
Add the shooting of Gallinari into this mix together with the rebounding of Capela, the all-around play of Collins and Hunter, and it is easy to see why the Hawks are so hard to stop when they are healthy. Unfortunately this has not been a very common occurrence this season.
So what happens when Bogdanovic is the sole shooter left on the floor due to injury? Well, he has become so entwined in the Hawks gameplan that he just takes over. Look at the performance he put in against the Hornets, a game the Hawks would have lost without Young last season, or even earlier this season.
Bogdanovic had 32 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals in just over 40 minutes. What he did do was make life so much easier for stand-in point guard Brandon Goodwin who went off for 17 points, eight assists, and five rebounds in 37 minutes.
This is how Bogdan Bogdanovic has saved the season for the Atlanta Hawks, he has made everyone else’s life easier thanks to his play. The next questions is how far will he help propel them this season.