Bojan Bogdanovic sat in the corner of the Washington Wizards‘ practice facility, surveying the landscape of his new home. John Wall had summoned someone to turn up the music, and as the beat bounced off the walls, and players laughed and launched jumpers, Bogdanovic quickly realized that he wasn’t in Brooklyn anymore.
“It’s a big change for me [coming] from a team that’s the worst in the league to one of the best teams right now in the league, with an all-star point guard. It’s a big jump for me,” Bogdanovic told reporters on Thursday. “I can see a little bit from practice that they have great chemistry.”
Bogdanovic arrived in town a day after the Wizards acquired him and Chris McCullough from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 first-round pick. Washington allowed the trade deadline to pass without making another deal and further improving holes on its bench. Since Nicholson and Thornton had not factored into the rotation for well over a month, the Wizards’ second unit, which averages the second fewest minutes and points in the NBA, remains mostly intact.
Now as the newly acquired player who is expected to make an immediate impact, Bogdanovic — who averaged 14.2 points, 44 percent shooting overall and 35.7 percent from the three-point arc — will be entrusted to help boost long-distance shooting on the second unit. If Bogdanovic is cleared through a physical in time, then Coach Scott Brooks hopes he can begin to fulfill this role as early as Friday night when the Wizards (34-21) face the Philadelphia 76ers.
“We’re excited to bring him into the mix. He’s going to add to our group of how we play and how we want to play going forward,” Brooks said. “He gives us another dimension to our team.”
Brooks described Bogdanovic as a 6-foot-8 scorer, not just a shooter, who can find the rim in myriad ways. Then, Wall likened Bogdanovic to a “Luol Deng type,” referencing the kind of swing forward who can catch and go. In that sense, Wall believes Bogdanovic’s presence can improve the offensive flow on the second unit.
“I’m hoping he can help us with someone else who can penetrate in our second unit and help move the ball and be able to knock down shots,” Wall said. “I think it’s a cool trade, good trade. Something that can help us.”
Bogdanovic spoke briefly to Brooks after the lively practice, so the two didn’t get a chance to dive deep into his role. However, Brooks wants Bogdanovic to also play minutes alongside starters. This season Bogdanovic, a starter in Brooklyn, has attempted more than five shots per game from the three-point arc — which would be the second most on the Wizards, sandwiched between Bradley Beal (7.2) and Otto Porter Jr. (4.6). Another three-point shooter adds to the Wizards’ desire to take more deep risks, while also mixing in a player who can float between the shooting guard spot and the stretch-four position.
“We just want to have players on the floor,” said Brooks, who hinted that rotation minutes will change. “Bojan is a very good player and he’s going to get minutes, and he’s going to get shots, but we all have to understand that we all have to make sacrifices for one another to have a good team.”
After learning about the trade, Bogdanovic said he phoned his family to share the news. As evidence of the team’s resurgence, his loved ones viewed the Wizards as an attractive team. And after his first impression at practice, Bogdanovic can see why.
“They were happy also that I was going to play on such a good team as Washington,” Bogdanovic said. “I was cheering all day to be traded here because I know how they [are playing] right now and that they need someone to score off the bench.
“I hope that I can adjust well and start to play well as soon as possible.”