You love to hear about guys being all-in for the greater good of the team. In a league increasingly dependent upon team chemistry as on-court fit, the need for “glue guys” cannot be overstated. It helps when those players are as effective as Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic is whenever he steps on the floor.
The Hawks eviscerated the Charlotte Hornets 125-106 in hostile territory to snap their two-game skid and notch their third win in eight tries in December.
Bogdanovic, drawing his first start of the season and the first since a 113-110 loss to the Detroit Pistons last season on March 7, delivered as usual. He finished with 28 points and nine rebounds which set a new season high.
After the game, he got honest about being a starter versus coming off the bench.
Bogdan Bogdanovic sounds off on role with Atlanta Hawks
“Everybody likes to start right here,” Bogdanovic said per Lauren L. Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I like to finish the games more. Honestly.”
That was definitely true last season when the 30-year-old swingman averaged 17 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 36 games as a reserve compared to a 12.5/3.8/2.7 line in his 27 appearances as a starter. Surprisingly, though, it has not really mattered either in his career as a whole.
Bogdanovic averages just 0.1 more points and 0.5 more assists when he starts opposed to coming in with the backups.
Head coach Nate McMillan was trying something different amid extenuating circumstances.
“I just wanted to add some know-how out there,” McMillan said of starting Bogdanovic over impressive rookie AJ Griffin. “With all the injuries, we’ve been playing our young guys, I’ve been bringing Bogi off the bench to try to keep some balance. The restriction was taken off for him and just felt like I needed to put some know-how out there in that starting lineup.”
Bogdanovic missed the entire offseason, training camp, and the first 22 games of the regular season as he recovered from offseason knee surgery to address an avulsion fracture he says has been bothering him for most of his career.
Young has returned but Collins and Murray remain out amplifying Bogdanovic’s production.
“It’s like recovery days,” he said on the current status of his health in the wake of his knee injuries. “In Orlando I think I again did a little bit too much. So I was a little bit, honestly, I wasn’t moving like tonight. So yesterday I was more focused on recovering and doing exercises for your knee. This is the new part for me.”
Bogdanovic is in the third year of a four-year, $72M pact with a player option worth $18 million for next season.
He has reportedly drawn trade interest from the Phoenix Suns who drafted him in 2014.
But, given how he has played and the Hawks’ needs, it would seem that there would need to be an even greater collapse or a godfather offer for a deal to make sense. Neither is beyond the realm of possibility but both are unlikely.