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NBA AM: Bojan Bogdanovic Fitting in with Washington Wizards

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Bojan Bogdanovic Fitting in with Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards were reportedly looking to acquire Lou Williams at this year’s trade deadline, but he ended up landing with the Houston Rockets. After missing out on Williams, the Wizards decided to trade Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a protected 2017 first-rounder for Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough. Considering how well Bogdanovic has played since joining Washington, it’s likely the Wizards aren’t too concerned about not landing Williams.

Through six games with the Wizards, Bogdanovic is averaging 15.5 points, two rebounds and 0.7 assists while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from beyond the arc (on 5.7 attempts per game). Bogdanovic is managing to put up these impressive numbers in just 24.5 minutes per game and is taking full advantage of the space his new teammate are creating for him.

In his fourth game with the Wizards, Bogdanovic scored a game-high 27 points against the Toronto Raptors on 9-12 shooting from the field and 6-7 shooting from three-point range.

A few days later, Bogdanovic dropped 27 points against the Orlando Magic while shooting 9-12 from the field and 8-10 from three-point range. Bogdanovic was on fire and hit nothing but net on just about every one of his three-pointers, including his eighth and final one, which put the Wizards ahead for good and sealed the victory.

“They put four three-point shooters out around one of the best point guards in the world,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “We got switches, which they’re supposed to do and he still got points racing down the lane. We over-helped a little bit, not a lot and weren’t able to get to the shooters.”

“With John and Bradley sometimes they’re trying to force them to take tough shots and sometimes they screw up on the switch,” said Bogdanovic.

Usually, there is an early adjustment period when a player joins a new team, but it looks like Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has kept things simple for Bogdanovic, which has led to solid early results for the sharpshooting forward.

“We just had to simplify the game for him and coach did that perfectly,” said forward Markieff Morris. “[Coach Brooks] made it real simple for [Bogdanovic]. He made a lot of wide-open shots. A lot of guys are capable of getting him the ball.”

Bogdanovic’s shooting allows him to effectively space the floor and he also has the ability to attack scrambling defenses off the dribble. While that may seem like a basic or common set of skills, it’s actually more valuable than many may believe, which is why Washington was willing to give up a first-round pick for Bogdanovic.

“You never know who is going to be our leading scorer,” said Wall. “[Bogdanovic is] a guy that can come off pindowns, shoot the ball very well. We do a great job of spacing floor and he’s able to get wide-open looks. We have to be able to knock down shots. He also is able to make plays off the dribble. I think that’s what’s helping us out, having us a go-to guy we can go to a little bit in the second unit.”

One of the Wizards’ biggest weaknesses earlier this season has been their lack of depth. With Ian Mahinmi getting closer to being fully healthy and the mid-season additions of Brandon Jennings and Bogdanovic, it appears as though the Wizards have the talent to remain relatively competitive even when their top players take a breather on the bench.

“Bojan played great,” Jason Smith said. “Ian was defending, protecting the rim. Tomas [Satoransky] was going out there he was working the ball left and right, running the plays and just getting guys open. We had a great second-unit effort. That’s for sure.”

With a bolstered second-unit and guys like Wall and Beal playing at a high level, the Wizards are well-positioned to challenge the Boston Celtics for the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Celtics have lost two games in a row and are tied with the Wizards in the loss column. Boston is a talented and well-coached team that won’t easily surrender the second seed but the Wizards are still integrating their new players and could hit another gear as the new guys get more comfortable. However, if you listen to Bogdanovic’s teammates, you would get the sense that he is already fitting right in and firing on all cylinders.

“He’s been great. He’s been on a streak right now,” Wall said of Bogdanovic. “Hopefully he can keep it going.”

In fact, it seems as though Bogdanovic is already causing some of his teammates to feel a bit envious about his recent hot streak — including sharpshooter Bradley Beal.

“He’s making me feel bad, man,” Beal said. “Like I’m not shooting enough threes. He’s shooting 10; he made eight. We need him to continue to shoot the ball.”

Considering Bogdanovic’s recent hot streak and how frequently his teammates are generating open three-point attempts for him, it’s safe to assume that he’ll keep filling it up from beyond the arc.

Andrew Bogut Fractures Tibia in Cleveland Debut

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the big winners in this year’s buyout market, landing point guard Deron Williams and center Andrew Bogut. Unfortunately for Bogut and Cleveland, Bogut fractured his left tibia less than a minute into his debut on Monday night against the Miami HEAT.

“As soon as the collision happened, I heard it break,” LeBron James said after the game. “And when I went over to him and he said [it was broken], I already knew it. I heard it crack.

“It took the air out of the whole building.”

The Cavaliers ultimately lost to Miami, who have won six of their last 10 games and continue to climb their way closer to an Eastern Conference playoff seed. Now Cleveland must regroup and move past the loss of Bogut, who was supposed to add depth in the frontcourt and serve as a defensive anchor and rim protector moving forward.

Fortunately for Cleveland, the team still has plenty of talent and is still well-positioned to make a run for the NBA Finals.

“[General manager] David Griffin has done an unbelievable job, and the pieces that we do have, I mean, this is probably the best group that I’ve played on since I’ve been here,” Kyrie Irving said. “And that’s hands down. And talent all around. So I’m definitely still confident about it, and I always will be.”

The Cavaliers have won six of their last 10 games and currently hold a three-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

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About Jesse Blancarte

Jesse Blancarte

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.