The Wizards Trade For Bojan Bogdanovic Was a Quietly Brilliant Move

Bogdanovic fits in perfectly with the rest of the Wizards roster, and it shows.

by John Hugar
Mar 10 2017, 7:30pm

© Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

When the Wizards traded for Bojan Bogdanovic at the deadline, it didn't look like a particularly earth-shattering move. If it generated any conversation it all, most was focused around why the Wizards didn't more aggressively pursue an elite sixth man—Lou Williams, say—instead of opting for a player who had been a solid rotation contributor on a miserable Brooklyn Nets team. "Now that we've got Bojan, we might be able to make the Finals!" is not a sentence you hear very often.

And yet, despite the lack of sizzle, Bogdanovic has proven to be a great pick-up for the Wizards, and a player ideally suited to help out where this team needs it most. In eight games, he's topped 27 points three times, including a brilliant performance against the Suns in which he scored 29 points on just nine shot attempts thanks to a 16-for-16 night at the free-throw line. He's also shot the ball astonishingly well since arriving in Washington, hitting .548 from downtown on over seven three-point attempts per game. With numbers like this, a regression is bound to happen at some point—his offensive rating with Washington is a patently unsustainable 141—but Bogdanovic has been a fantastic acquisition nonetheless. He's added considerable pop to the Wizards' weak bench, and made an already scary team into an even more frightening playoff matchup as the postseason looms.

If Ernie Grunfeld's move to trade for Bogdanovic initially felt underwhelming in a world where the likes of Sweet Lou, Serge Ibaka, and Deron Williams were on the move, it now seems like a savvy bit of counterpunching. Rather than going after a well-known player who could potentially cost more than he'd be willing to pay, he set his sights on a talented player who was undervalued because he was stuck on a poor team. Instead of giving up any key pieces, Grunfeld was able to significantly improve his team for the low price of a late first-round pick and Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton. Neither of those had contributed much to the Wizards success this season, and Nicholson comes with the baggage of the albatross-y four-year, $26 million contract he signed with the Wiz last summer.

During Bogdanovic's time with the Nets, there was plenty of evidence suggesting that he was a good player trapped on a bad team. He's shot above 82 percent from the free-throw line in all three of his NBA seasons, and he's consistently been a strong shooter from the field. In 2015-16, he shot .382 on three-point field goals, and while that number fell to .357 in his time with Brooklyn this season, his current hot streak from downtown suggests that on a team with better floor spacing, he can thrive as a long-range shooter.

There is the question of how long Bogdanovic will remain in Washington, given that he's a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He won't be the team's top priority, as the Wizards will likely have to shell out max money to retain Otto Porter, who is in the middle of a breakout season. It's fair to assume that the Wizards would like to retain the services of both Porter and Bogdanovic, but depending on the market, that may prove to be difficult, or impossible. Still, for the time being, the Bogdanovic deal has worked out extremely well. He has proven that his solid numbers in Brooklyn weren't merely the product of being on a bad team that needed someone to score, and sliding him in as the sixth-man is an ideal fit for both this player and this team.

While Bogdanovic is unlikely to be a top three guy on a serious contender, the Wizards don't need him to be that. He has already shown he is an excellent complementary piece, and more than capable of being a key component to a playoff caliber team. Come postseason time, with LeBron and Co. standing between everyone else in the Eastern Conference and the NBA Finals, teams will need all the help you can get. In Bogdanovic, the Wizards got help they needed, at a price they could afford.

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