With the 27th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns selected Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (not to be confused with Wizards forward Bojan Bogdanovic or famed Serbian architect Bogdan Bogdanovic). Three years later, Bogdanovic is finally coming to play in the NBA, reportedly agreeing a three-year, $36 million dollar deal with the Sacramento Kings. That’s the highest amount a rookie has ever made in the NBA, and a huge chunk of change to pay for a dude who has yet to play at the highest level. So who is this guy?
At the time he was drafted, Bogdanovic was playing for his hometown team Partizan Belgrade, although he signed with European power Fenerbahçe shortly afterwards. He blossomed from a hotshot prospect to a genuine star in Turkey, starting 89 Euroleague games and improving in every statistical category year-by-year. The Suns ceded Bogdanovic to the Sacramento Kings during last year’s draft in order to move up five spots and select Marquese Chriss, and Sacramento’s GM, Serbian basketball legend Vlade Divac, declared him the best player in Europe.
Although he was just 23, he quickly began proving Divac right. Serbia earned silver at the Rio Olympics, and Bogdanovic averaged 12.3 points per game in a team-high 209 minutes. He dropped 19 on China and then 18 on Croatia to push his team into the semifinals, although he only scored seven in each of Serbia’s games with the United States.
In 2017, Fenerbahçe cleaned up, winning the Turkish league and becoming the first Turkish team to win the Euroleague. Bogdanovic was right at the heart of it, scoring a team-high 14.3 points and 3.6 assists with 43 percent three-point shooting. He earned All-Euroleague first team honors and won MVP of the Turksih Cup.
Bogdanovic is 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan, the ideal size for a modern shooting guard. He can hit the three and create a bit off the dribble, and reports out of Europe indicate that he’s a very solid defender. Divac went to the Euroleague final to schmooze with Bogdanovic’s inner circle in an attempt to get him to sign, and it apparently worked.
The Kings declined to re-sign underperforming shooting guard Ben McLemore, and although the team already has Buddy Hield, the lack of wing depth (or really any depth) means that Bogdanovic should see the court plenty. The Kings are paying a ton of money for him, but they have a boatload of cap space and spending it on a promising gem from Europe is much wiser than overpaying for mediocre free agents, something the team has had a nasty habit of doing over the past few summers. While it’s a mystery how good the 24-year-old rookie will be, Sacramento should at least give him every opportunity to succeed.