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Bojan Bogdanovic and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad play

Bojan Bogdanovic was just one of the successful offseason moves the Pacers made. But could he be the small forward beyond this season?

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) shoots against Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) during the second quarter at Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Credit: Jason Getz
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Bojan Bogdanovic screwed up pretty badly on Monday. Boneheaded plays, like his pass, can linger with a player forever. After the Hawks game, he even admitted he hadn’t slept for two straight days. But thanks to Indiana’s resilient locker room their last-second loss to the Celtics didn’t linger, allowing Bogdanovic to scored 19 points in their redemption win.

His performance on Wednesday was just one of the reasons he’s having a superb season with Pacers. He’s playing so well that Pacer fans have completely forgotten about Glenn Robinson - Bogdanovic could even be the long-term answer at small forward.

In his first season with Indiana Bogdanovic is averaging 13.9 points (career-high), shooting 47.9 percent (career-high), 41 percent from three (career-high) and playing 31.4 minutes per game (career-high). Are you starting to recognize a theme?

By any rating, Bogdanovic is having the best season of his career. His success can be attributed to increased opportunities and improvements in both his overall shooting and ability to hold his ground against other small forwards.

It might be hard for some to remember that Bogdanovic is only 28 years old since he looks at least 35:

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4, right) talks with forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Credit: Jason Getz
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

He’s also only in his fourth season because he spent most of his early twenties playing in Turkey.

If this were any other NBA player you would expect to see improvements in their game every year until at least their sixth season. But for Bogdanovic, the NBA mainly gave up on him this summer. He came into free agency looking for a $50 million contract but the market quickly dried up for him (like it did for a lot of other players).

Instead, he settled for opportunity over guaranteed money. Indiana only offered Bogdanovic $12 million guaranteed but assured him he’d be the starter, even though they had Glenn Robinson waiting in the wings.

Bogdanovic bet on himself to come play for a Pacers team that was completely revamping its roster. To his credit, he’s been one of the reasons Indiana has had such early success.

He’s the best off-ball floor stretcher and best transition three-point shooter the Pacers may have ever had. He instinctively knows where to go on fast breaks.

He also does a great job of using his left shoulder to create space in the lane and score, making it harder for defenders to guard him up-close.

Bogdanovic is comparable to Ryan Anderson. Both are subpar defenders but can make up for deficiencies on that end of the floor by supplying high-efficiency offensive games and aiding their teammates by creating floor space.

It’s also interesting to note that both Anderson and Bogdanovic are having the best defensive seasons of their careers. It helps that they both play next to two of the best rim protectors: Clint Capela and Myles Turner, respectively.

The only thing Bogdanovic can expand on is his three-point range. Watch how Anderson is able to stretch the floor even more because he can hit shots from 29 plus feet:

If the Pacers are serious about creating chemistry with a core group of players, they should think about extending Bogdanovic beyond next season. His team option next year is for $10.5 million which will probably be exercised. His backup when he returns from injury is Glenn Robinson who is a free agent after this season.

Robinson made huge strides in his third NBA season. But he hasn’t played a game this season and Bogdanovic’s offensive game is far superior. Indiana holds a ton of leverage over Bogdanovic with the team option next offseason. They could use their leverage to sign him to a below-market value extension.

In the 2016 speed-spree, Anderson got a contract for four years and $80 million. Bogdanovic would be lucky to get a four-year, $60 million dollar contract. $12-15 million a year is a reasonable number for him...but four years for a player who will turn 29 in April is not.

If you include Bogdanovic’s team option the Pacers could probably get him for three years $35-40 million; paying him $10.5 million in 2018-19, and around $12-15 million the next two seasons.

It would be a reasonable contract that would allow Indiana to keep a player who on his worst day their sixth man off the bench. Bogdanovic also fits incredibly well with Indiana's three future building blocks in Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo.

Even though he made a mistake Monday Bogdanovic’s future should be bright in Indiana and depending on the Robinson situation he could be in a Pacer uniform longer than expected. Just listen to his post-game interview with Jeremiah Johnson... how can you not love this man?