Bogdanovic Now Tough Enough for the NBA

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

EAST RUTHERFORD – Bogan Bogdanovic has some experience being a little late to the game, so he is not daunted in the least at having had to bide his time before getting his NBA chance.

Bogdanovic, a 6-8 forward from Croatia, didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 15. And he wasn’t drafted until the first pick of the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft.

Call him a late bloomer if you will but know this: Bogdanovic is not another sweet shooting European who cringes at the thought of contact.

Bogdanovic has played for two of the most tough-minded coaches in European basketball. Now that he’s bulked up to 216 pounds – adding some 20 pounds since he was originally drafted – and added a pick-and-roll game and a post game, Bogdanovic believes he’s ready to do NBA battle.

"I think I’m a tough guy," Bogdanovic said on Monday at the Nets’ practice facility where he was introduced to the media.

"That’s why I come, because I think the time’s ready. I’m tough enough to play in this league."

Bogdanovic, 25, might have an early chance to show just how NBA-ready he is. The Nets opted not to make an offer to Paul Pierce, who signed with the Washington Wizards, meaning Brooklyn has an opening at small forward.

"His main strength is his outside shot but he’ll prove to be a better athlete than people think," said former Manhattan and St. John’s coach Fran Fraschilla, now ESPN’s top European talent evaluator and color commentator on national college basketball telecasts.

"His ability to stretch the floor with his shooting gives him a chance to play early in his time in Brooklyn. I think he’s got the potential to be a solid NBA rotation guy on a good team."

Bogdanovic played the last three years for Turkish League power Fenerbahce Ulker under respected and tough coach Zeljko Obradovic, who has won eight European League titles.

Bogdanovic averaged 13.7 points on 49-percent shooting from the field, including 36.8-percent shooting on 3s and 82.3 percent from the line. He added 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

Before turning professional, Bogdanovic played for Croatian national team coach Jasmin Repesa, also considered a tough-minded coach. Bogdanovic should feel right at home playing for new Nets’ coach Lionel Hollins.

"He’s a very experienced player for a guy his age," said Fraschilla. "He’s been hard coached and is used to working, so he’ll fit in nicely with Lionel’s old school style."

Bogdanovic went apartment hunting Monday afternoon but will return to Croatia and play on the national team this summer in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Then he’ll return to the metropolitan area in September and work at showing the Nets’ coaching staff what he can do.

"First of all, I’m a pure shooter," said Bogdanovic. "I think in the last three years since Brooklyn drafted me I grew a lot in my game, especially with the ball. I had a lot of good coaching in those three years."

If Bogdanovic gives the Nets some quality minutes in place of Pierce, his path to the NBA will have been worth the wait.