What’s in a name? If you’re Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, you know all about name confusion with Bojan Bogdanovic confounding casual followers. The two are not related but that hasn’t stopped the confusion.
There is no mistaking his fellow countrymen – Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic and Miami Heat rookie big man Nikola Jovic. One is a 7-foot, 300-pound two-time MVP while the other is 6-foot-10 and listed at 209 pounds. With those two set to face off in the 2023 NBA Finals, Bogdanovic was asked to pick sides.
The two have a long history.
Bogdanovic and Jokic have been playing together and competing against each other for years before jumping to the NBA. And they were spotted together with Houston Rockets big man Boban Marjanovic in Serbia partying for the Hawks’ swingman’s 30th birthday in August.
Jovic, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, doesn’t turn 20 until June 9, is just over a decade younger than Bogdanovic, and is eight years the junior of Jokic.
Needless to say, Jokic also has a clear advantage in postseason play
“Jokic is much more experienced, but we certainly wish the best for the younger Nikola as well,” Bogdanovic said. “We will certainly have one Serbian player who will win the title, and that’s very important.”
There could be some added motivation to root for Denver, the prohibitive favorite coming into the series.
The Hawks beat the Heat in the Play-In Tournament to advance to the playoffs. They also took two games from the Boston Celtics in the first round despite a season rife with turmoil, front-office upheaval, and even a coaching change.
There is a reasonable case to be made that, if not an NBA Finals berth, the Hawks have much more to offer than what they showed this season.
In one other potentially notable moment, Bogdanovic – who has dealt with knee injuries over the last few years – did say he wants to be healthy enough to return to his former team KK Partizan before he retires.
The Hawks inked the five-year NBA veteran to a four-year, $68 million extension in March.
Trae Young flexes one-and-done pedigree
Hawks star Trae Young has already made an indelible mark on the NBA as the leader in total assists and total points in 2022, a feat that had not been accomplished in 50 years, among other notable accomplishments. But Young’s dynamic talents did not suddenly appear once he made it to the NBA.
He was faced with many of the same questions in college – and, certainly, his whole life – about his size and game while setting records.
Neither side of that has ever left the young point guard.
In the face of many questions about his longevity in Atlanta, fans can be assured by Young’s constant affirmation of wanting to bring a title to Atlanta and the historic numbers he and Dejounte Murray put up together in spite of all the noise of the season.
Of course that has to translate to wins.
But, as Young said in the tweet, “the work works”, and the Hawks have evidence to back up a belief in what they are building.