• Bogdan Bogdanovic made his highly anticipated debut on Monday, ironically against the team that selected him with the 27th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. You can’t blame the Suns for trading him away, as he was reluctant to join them in order to avoid the rookie scale contract and aimed to negotiate a bigger deal on his own terms. He was eventually traded to the Kings along with two first-round picks in 2016 (Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere) and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft just one day after announcing he would forgo joining the Suns, returning to his club team, Fenerbahce Ulker of Turkey.

    The Kings were aggressive in their efforts to acquire his rights as both GM and VP of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac and Director of Player Personnel Peja Stojakovic are aware of his upside and his potential to be a cornerstone for this franchise. Last summer he signed a three-year, $27 million deal with Sacramento, which gave him the richest rookie contract in the history of modern NBA. So, is he really worth it?

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    What We Know

    Bogdanovic along with Milos Teodosic, Nikola Jokic, Nemanja Bjelica, Boban Marjanovic and Ognjen Kuzmic belongs to a unique group of Serbian basketball talent. His resume is really impressive with accomplishments on both the personal and team level and it wouldn’t necessarily be an exaggeration in calling him a prima donna.

    He is entering the prime of his career and has gained enough international experience to not be considered a rookie. Coach Dave Joerger has acknowledged this and Bogdanovic should be getting plenty of playing time, especially since the Kings are in full rebuild mode and they will be looking for a leader to emerge out of their current collection of youth.

    “I’m going to implore him to be a little bit more selfish – welcome to the NBA,” Joerger said. “He’s passing up some shots that I need him to take.” He knows how to get open and we’re struggling getting open.”

    Bogdanovic is coming to the NBA with the reputation of a pure scorer as he has always been the number one offensive weapon for the teams he played for. The best part of his game is the ability to come out of screens, catch, shoot and smoothly execute. His screen work will be something to watch for in future games, but his catch and shoot game is on display below:

    Even though his shot is extremely polished the release is a little slow. He has the ability to create space between himself and the defender and will still force the action if needed. This is an area he needs to improve on, as NBA players are longer and more athletic compared to the ones he faced playing overseas.

    “He can make passes in pick-and-roll, he can make passes on the move, can pass and cut, play in the pick-and-roll.” – coach Dave Joerger

    You can never have enough playmakers on your team and the Kings will be deploying some very interesting lineups this season. Bogdanovic has mastered the PnR action under coach Zelimir Obradovic to the point where he lets the game come to him by reading the defenses and making the right decision. This leads to great percentages overall in his game. Here’s a nice collection of PnR activity with Bogdan as the primary ball handler (note that Bogdanovic is #13 in these clips).

    What makes Bogdanovic more than a conventional shooting guard is the ability to play both on and off the ball. He will have the opportunity to deliver plenty of assists playing alongside De’Aaron Fox and Garrett Temple while guarding smaller, less athletic point guards on the other side of the floor.

    And even though he can do a good job driving and kicking, Sacramento doesn’t have many reliable shooters to convert these passes so they will rely on the slashing activity of De’Aaron Fox and George Hill.

    You should not expect to see Buddy Hield and Bogdanovic in the same lineup, primarily for defensive purposes, and these non traditional lineups are the reason Hill will be (or should be) playing a lot off the ball this year.

    Bogdanovic is very comfortable handling the ball and will have no problem keeping his turnovers down as long as he’s surrounded with veterans and it’s clear that the Kings’ coach understands how valuable he can be for this young team.

    The Challenges

    Bogdanovic has a nice frame at 6’6″ with a 6’11” wingspan but he is not overly athletic and you shouldn’t expect him to hit the glass consistently. He may struggle to finish plays close to the rim as he lacks high-level explosiveness and is primarily a below-the-rim finisher, though he does have exceptional footwork and can go against smaller opponents. Getting to the foul line has never been his strength and this will probably won’t change at the NBA level but he’s elite from the charity stripe when he gets there.

    At this point of his career he would benefit from bulking up his upper body as this would allow him to play the small forward position, absorb contact and hold his ground defensively.

    He will have to do a better job at closing out as he is not the fastest athlete and playing as a shooting guard will put him in some tough defensive situations against quicker guards.

    Here is another defensive possession where Bogdanovic lacks the concentration to keep up with Devin Booker and fails to recover with speed.

    He shouldn’t be labeled as a bad defender since when he is committed he can provide great one-on-one defense and be a nice source of steals.

    What to Look for Long Term

    When evaluating a player I usually try to avoid comparisons but in the case of Bogdanovic I have no issue calling him the closest thing to Manu Ginobili. Bogdanovic is not as quick and explosive of a finisher as Manu but he’s got more length and is equally crafty and clutch. Once he adjusts to the fast pace of NBA he will be very hard to contain.

    Coach Joerger has talked about fatigue and how the long season overseas combined with the EuroBasket tournament will force him to take a slow approach with his rookie. He will probably hit the wall at some point  but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bogdanovic ends the year playing around 30 minutes and possibly overtaking Buddy Hield as the starting shooting guard.

    Coaches love smart players and Joerger will have a hard time keeping him off the floor. It’s very encouraging to see that he has already developed strong chemistry with fellow rookie stud De’Aaron Fox. Kings fans should be excited while I would try to add him in all dynasty formats as I expect a long and very successful career for him in Sacramento. He has a great second-half outlook in redraft leagues as well.

Fantasy News

  • Hasheem Thabeet - C - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Hasheem Thabeet worked out for the Rockets, Raptors and Pistons while the teams were in Charlotte for All-Star weekend.

    Thabeet was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Grizzlies and was quickly one of the biggest busts in NBA history. He was the highest overall pick to be sent to the then D-League until Anthony Bennett secured the top spot. Thabeet is somehow still only 31 years old, and 7'2" centers can certainly provide value in today's NBA, but it's unlikely Thabeet finds his way back into the league. He's currently playing in the Japanese B-League.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter

  • Dirk Nowitzki - F - Dallas Mavericks

    Dirk Nowitzki said he has not made any final decision on if this is his last season.

    "I haven't said this will be it," Nowitzki said, "I'm going to wait and see the last couple of weeks, how my body feels and if I continue to see improvement and I'm still having fun, we'll see." While Dirk has been treating this season as a retirement tour, there's still a chance we see him playing next season.

    Source: Brad Townsend on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    Anthony Davis (left shoulder contusion) said he is unsure if he will play in the All-Star game on Sunday.

    Davis said the plan is to play, but we will have to wait and see if he's feeling okay. He's certainly not worried about saving himself for the second-half of the season.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Kyrie Irving (right knee strain) says he is healthy and plans to play in Sunday's All-Star game.

    Irving missed the Celtics' last two games but fantasy owners shouldn't expect him to miss any more with the current injury. Terry Rozier was a hot pickup when Irving initially went down but now goes back to being a handcuff. Irving has put up top-10 per-game value this year with no holes in his fantasy game but he has already missed 11 games. He has missed at least 10 games in seven of his eight NBA seasons so this is something fantasy owners should already be used to.

    Source: Gary Washburn on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    Anthony Davis said that the Celtics are on his list of preferred destinations.

    Moreover, Davis added "they were never not on my list," though he also confirmed that the initial reports of his list including the Knicks, Lakers, Clippers and Bucks were true. Initially it had been said that the Celtics are not a preferred landing spot, and Davis' dad would rather his son play elsewhere. It sounds like everything is on the table now that his push to end up on the Lakers has failed, as Davis also said "all 29 teams" (sorry New Orleans) are on his list. Get ready for more updates on AD's thoughts as the season rolls on.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Nikola Jokic - C - Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets have agreed to extensions with president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and GM Arturas Karnisovas.

    The Nuggets haven't reached the playoffs in the last five seasons but will surely end that streak this year. Their abundance of talent and depth currently has them in second place in the Western Conference although Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas have all been injured for much of the season. Their draft choices and player development over the years has been a big catalyst for this as one could look at Nikola Jokic and the breakout seasons of Jamal Murray, Torrey Craig, Monte Morris and Malik Beasley, all of them having been with Denver since their first day in the NBA.

    Source: Denver Post

  • Ben Simmons - G/F - Philadelphia Sixers

    Ben Simmons paced Team World in Friday's loss to Team USA in the Rising Stars Challenge with 28 points on 14-of-17 shooting, five rebounds, six assists and three steals.

    Everyone knew that defense would not be one of the highlights of this game, but his .823 shooting from the field was just crazy good. He did miss his only shot from the line which was in a way, Simmons' artistic signature on his line for the night. Bulls' Fantastic Finn Lauri Markkanen chimed in with 21 points (9-of-17 shooting), six rebounds, two dimes and three triples.

  • Kyle Kuzma - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma led Team USA to a 161-144 victory over Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday with 35 points on 15-of-27 shooting and was named the game's MVP.

    Kuzma added six rebounds, two assists, three triples and a block to the box score in what was a for-fun yet still competitive game that ended Team USA's two-year drought. Special mentions go out to Jayson Tatum, who chipped in 30 points (12-of-24 shooting), nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and six 3-pointers, as well as rookie Trae Young who double-doubled with 25 points (six 3s), seven rebounds, 10 dimes and a block.

  • Rodions Kurucs - F - Brooklyn Nets

    After missing the Nets' last game with a left elbow strain, Rodions Kurucs took to the court in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday and posted 10 points (4-of-9 shooting), four boards, five dimes and two triples in 16 minutes for Team World.

    It's a once in a lifetime experience and it was good to see Kurucs healthy enough to make an appearance. He's been a low-end asset in fantasy thanks to his lack of consistent production but is one to watch especially if you're in deep keeper or dynasty leagues as he's shown some flashes of upside when he's had the chance to shine.

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Kyrie Irving (right knee strain) is "very, very close" to a return and the Celtics would not be opposed to him playing in Sunday's All-Star game.

    Irving made the trip to Charlotte with his personal trainer a the team's physical therapist. Although he's missed the last two games, the Celtics wouldn't mind him participating in Sunday's game and Danny Ainge things that an exhibition contest might actually function as a good workout. Brad Stevens speculated that Irving would've been able to play on Friday or Saturday had the Celtics had a regular game, so it sounds like he won't miss much more time.

    Source: Boston Herald