In the immediate aftermath of the NBA Finals, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young took to social media to declare his team next up to make that leap from first-round out to title contender. He was not the only one reflecting on the moment, however.
Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic also had the NBA Finals on the brain, only he was taking a moment to congratulate his friend and fellow Serbian and Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic who earned NBA Finals MVP after dominating the series and, really, this postseason averaging a triple-double throughout.
“It’s always good to be Serbian, especially today, Bogdanovic tweeted on June 12. “Thank you Joker.”
He also said this won’t be the last title Jokic wins.
The title is Denver’s first in franchise history and, while the Hawks organization has a championship in its history, the Atlanta franchise has never hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end.
They are hoping to follow a similar path as Denver: a perennial playoff team that had gotten over the hump.
So far they can point to Denver’s first-round exit just last season.
But the Nuggets also made their first Western Conference Finals under head coach Mike Malone one season before the Hawks made their surprise trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020-21. And, while they got one round further than the Hawks did in 2021-22, they too had taken steps backward before leaping to the NBA Finals and a championship this season.
Bogdanovic, 30, figures to be a part of that hopeful leap after inking a four-year, $68 million contract in March that will keep him out of any trades until September when training camps start and teams might be less willing to deal anyway.
Not only is he likely to be around, but he also enters this offseason healthy enough to suit up for his native Serbia – likely alongside Jokic – in the 2023 FIBA World Cup starting in August.
Bogdanovic had been dealing with knee injuries for at least the last two years.
He missed the first 22 games of the regular season after offseason knee surgery but only six more the rest of the way. But, now healthy, he has been training for the FIBA World Cup and, surely, the upcoming NBA season to which he recently joked about adding to his game after seeing a graphic depicting one Miami Heat player’s shot chart.
Atlanta Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic eyeing Duncan Robinson’s game
Bogdanovic averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this past season, and, pertinent to the team’s shift to Quin Snyder, he shot 40.6% from beyond the arc on 6.7 attempts per game which were down from his last three seasons.
But, between Games 2 and 3 of the Finals, a graphic surfaced highlighting the shot selection of Heat wing Duncan Robinson.
It gave Bogdanovic ideas for his own game.
Robinson’s most notable feat was arguably going from being sparsely used in the regular season to playing a vital role in the Heat’s run to the Finals becoming the first No. 8 seed in 24 years to do so.
Bogdanovic, meanwhile, shot 60.6% in the restricted area during the regular season but did get up to 71.4% in the six games the Hawks lasted in the playoffs.