Bogdan vs. Bojan: Meet the Unrelated Bogdanovic Boys Headed to the NBA

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterSeptember 8, 2014

Ukraine's Kyryl Natyazhko, right, tries to stop Croatia's Bojan Bogdanovic, left, during their EuroBasket European Basketball Championship quarterfinal match in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Sometime in the near future, there's going to be an NBA game that includes multiple Bogdaniviches. And neither of them will have anything to do with one another.

The only thing these two guys share in common is the game itself. 

Otherwise, one guy is a 25-year-old Croatian and the other a 22-year-old Serbian wing—each with different backgrounds and outlooks.

The Phoenix Suns got the 22-year-old Serbian, Bogdan, who they picked with the No. 27 pick in the 2014 draft. He'll be playing in Turkey in 2014-15 after recently signing a deal with Fenerbahce Ulker that has a 2016 NBA out, per Ismail Senol.

The Brooklyn Nets just inked Croatia's Bojan Bogdanovic, who's been seasoning in Europe ever since the Miami Heat took him (and then traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who sent him to the New Jersey Nets) at No. 31 in the 2011 draft, to a three-year, $10 million deal. 

Both of these guys have been standouts for their respective countries in this summer's 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. 

But with Bojan, we're not exactly talking about a breakout prospect, something Bogdan, the 2014 Euroleague Rising Star winner, was referred to as this past season for Partizan. Bojan has been a highly-regarded international prospect since the European Championships back in 2005.

Petr David Josek/Associated Press

After bouncing around from Real Madrid's junior team and CB Murcia in the Spanish ACB to Cibona Zagreb of the Adriatic League, he spent the last three years with Fenerbahce Ulker. 

Bojan averaged 14.8 points a game this past season, having led his team to Turkish Basketball League and Turkish Super Cup championships.

And he's caught fire this summer in Spain despite Croatia's up-and-down performance. Bojan's 21.2 points per game through six are actually good for third best in the tournament. He's all about offense, and he gets it in more ways than one. 

At 6'7", he's got good size and decent athleticism for a small forward, but it's his skill level and touch that ultimately separate him.

He's got the ability to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot with a number of different ones in the arsenal, from stop-and-pop jumpers in the mid-range to fadeaways in the post.

Still, it's his jumper that's likely to hold the most NBA value. Bojan projects poorly as a defender, given his limited lateral quickness, while many of the shots he creates for himself rank fairly high on the difficult scale. He's also just not overly explosive around the rim, which hurts him as a finisher in the paint.

But despite an off year shooting the ball, he'd shot over 40 percent from downtown in back-to-back seasons prior to 2013-14 thanks to a sharp, quick release and plenty of range. During the World Cup, he sunk 13 three-pointers at a respectable 36.1 percent clip.

Bogdan sports a sweet shooting stroke as well, and though it's a bit streaky, it's arguably just as lethal.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26:  Bogdan Bogdanovic of Serbia (R) shakes hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted with the #27 overall pick by the Phoenix Suns during the 2014 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 26, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

He converted a total of 140 three-pointers in 66 games played this past year. During the World Cup, where he averaged 28 minutes, Bogdan hit 11 threes in six games at a 39.3 percent clip. 

He shoots with notable confidence and has the ability to connect under pressure. 

Bogdan is also crafty in the mid-range, where he can rise and fire out of nowhere or separate from his defender into a step-back. 

And he's a good-looking athlete who gets to his spots on the floor. He'll ultimately have to do a better job of finishing in traffic and creating higher-percentage two-point looks (shot below 40 percent from the field in back-to-back seasons), but he's a threat in the drive-and-slash game both on and off the ball. 

This year, we got to witness the evolution of Bogdan's playmaking skills, which were put on display when Partizan's point guard (Leo Westermann) went down with an injury. Bogdan averaged 3.7 assists in the Adriatic League and Euroleague and 2.7 during the World Cup. 

Bogdan is no point guard, but his elusiveness off the bounce results in open shots for teammates, who he's proven capable of finding as a passer. 

And unlike Bojan, Bogdan actually projects as a potential defensive asset, given his 6'11" wingspan, mobility and aggression. While he still has plenty to learn, Bogdan competes with great energy at this end of the floor, a quality that's likely to sit well with NBA coaches.

Bogdan and Bojan actually squared off earlier in August, with Bogdan taking the Bogdanovic battle by sinking a game-winning three-pointer with under six seconds to go.

But it's Bojan who we'll get to see with expected regularity next season, given the Nets' need for offense and shooting. 

"Even during the season, I told people in Fener how I would stay, but when the call came from the NBA, when we started talking about my role in the team, about life in America....that was key moment and I decided I will go to the NBA," Bojan told Drazen Brajdić of the Croatian newspaper Vecernji.

For what it's worth, of the two, I'm taking Bogdan, whose youth and two-way services give him the edge in long-term upside. But both the Bogdanovic boys are bound to eventually emerge as impact NBA players.

Hopefully, once these guys settle into the league and establish their own separate identities, there won't be any more confusion from fans and media over who's who.

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