Bojan Bogdanovic is a wide pindown artist. Like the dexterity of an experienced acrylic painter demonstrating an array of brush stroke techniques, Indiana’s starting small forward creates differing effects when springing forth from the corner by wielding varying degrees of pressure with equal amounts of control and ease. Not only is he converting a career-best 62.9 percent of his looks around the rim in the half court, the Croatian sharpshooter has the highest field goal percentage in the NBA on all shots 10 feet and out, minimum 150 attempts.
More than a 3-point specialist, Bogdanovic has added shadow and contour to his already existing ability to flip assumptions to his advantage when reading screens away from the ball by tailoring the depth by which he attacks the coverage.
Take this possessions against the Suns, for instance. With Trevor Ariza locking and trailing on the cut and Deandre Ayton stepping up to contest the curl, Phoenix’s defense is doing everything it can to funnel the 6-foot-8 forward into an awkward miss at the rim over the top of the No. 1 pick’s 9-foot-3 standing reach.
Except, by leveraging his left shoulder and left hip to shield the ball and gain advantage around Ayton, Bogdanovic essentially responds with, “oh, don’t mind if I do.”
Take a few steps laterally to cauterize the path of the curl like Wendell Carter Jr., and the crafty shape-shifter can counter by creating space for himself in the opposite direction.
On the season, Bogdanovic is already 10-of-17 on step back jump shots through 26 games compared to the 19 he converted in 81 games last season.
Even so, shooting the gap is a dicey play for the defense since it risks netting the sharpshooter an extra point. Go under the pindown in an attempt to deny the passing lane and the defender is more or less giving Bogdanovic free reign to fade to the three-point line, where he’s shooting a blistering 48.6 percent.
Just ask the Magic.
Attempting to switch a stagger for McDermott with Bogdanovic as the first screener went sideways in a hurry for the Bulls, too.
As soon as Bogdanovic noticed that McDermott’s man shot the gap coming off the second screen on the switch, he flipped around and chased the stagger with a wide pindown and faded when his defender followed in kind, like so:
That’s plain mean, right?
And yet, the more flames Bogdanovic throws, the more the Pacers need to prepare themselves to better capitalize on his gravity.
The Lakers already demonstrated an increased willingness to bend.
Just look at how high up the floor Javale McGee comes to contest Bogdanovic off the — albeit poorly executed — wide pindown. This is basically the equivalent of an aggressive drop against a ball-handler.
Why so bold? For one, Turner rarely, if ever, slips, and when he does manage to shake loose (as seen above), Bogdanovic hasn’t shown much of an aptness for throwing lobs, pocket passes, one-handed whips, or fake shots to the screener.
This possession turns out okay because LeBron slides over to trap the box which forces Brandon Ingram to sink to Thad and results in an open three for Tyreke Evans, but it’s nonetheless easy to see how that congestion could result in some hiccups down the road, especially if Oladipo’s return to the lineup lends itself to perimeter help defenders not being quite as overzealous on Bogdanovic’s middle penetration.
Timing is everything. Later in the game against Chicago, because Darren Collison waited a beat too long to throw the pass to Bogdanovic on the fade when Justin Holiday attempted to shoot the gap, Turner had to re-screen, which gave Carter Jr. the opportunity to confront the 29-year-old shooter at the level of the screen.
Turner’s reluctance to dart to the rim then led to an ever-dangerous split.
Bogdanovic ends up somehow completing an impressive one-handed pass to Collison for three after leaving his feet for a highly contested shot.
Again, it works — but, wow, if it isn’t touch-and-go.
As with any skilled artist, the Pacers need to ensure that Bogdanovic’s savvy off-screen shot-making continues to have a place to be displayed when the defense ramps up.