Jazz Finding Answers For Replacing Bogdanovic

Jul 17, 2020, 3:38 PM | Updated: Jul 19, 2020, 11:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are preparing to resume the NBA season in Orlando. While there’s optimism about the team’s roster, specifically the emergence of Mike Conley just before the season’s hiatus, the absence of forward Bojan Bogdanovic is a glaring hole. Bogdanovic underwent season-ending wrist surgery in May to repair an injury he’d suffered earlier in the season. Now, without the sharpshooting forward, coach Quin Snyder is tasked with replacing Bogdanovic, so the Jazz can advance through the NBA postseason.

Bogdanovic is one of just four players this season to average more than 20 points per game while shooting better than 40 percent from the three-point line. The Jazz signed the Croatian forward to reduce the offensive burden on All-Star Donovan Mitchell, specifically during the playoffs.

As one of the league’s most prolific shot makers, Bogdanovic was capable of finishing possessions efficiently without needing open shots to be successful. Without the forward, Snyder said the Jazz playmakers will have to help fill the void.

“Certainly not having Bojan hurts,” Snyder said. “But at the same time, we’ve got some really good players that are capable of making plays.”

In addition to Bogdanovic, the Jazz traded for Mike Conley last summer to aid Mitchell as a primary ball-handler. In December, the team traded the defensive-minded Dante Exum for the shoot-first skillset of Jordan Clarkson. Though Bogdanovic’s role can’t be replaced, Snyder indicated the team will

“We need guys to be aggressive,” Snyder said. “Aggressive early in the clock. Those are shots that we want to take. There were shots we want to go out and take and [Bogdanovic] did. So, absorbing the number of threes I think is important.”

Can Jazz Replace Bogdanovic’s Three-Point Shooting?

Beyond Bogdanovic’s terrific three-point shooting percentage, he’s a high volume shooter. The forward averaged a team-leading 7.3 three-point attempts per game while playing 33 minutes a game. To continue to find the consistency that made the Jazz the eighth-best offensive team in NBA, Snyder will need to supplant those attempts with players who can assume more playing time.

Bogdanovic ranked third on the team in three-point attempts (7.9) per 36 minutes. The two bench players who may find increased minutes and opportunity in Bogdanovic’s absence, Clarkson (8.1) and forward Georges Niang (8.6), both lead Bogdanovic in three-point attempts per minute. Despite the large weight of the burden, neither Clarkson nor Niang are intimidated by the opportunity.

“It looks like there’s going to be more opportunity,” Niang said of Bogdanovic’s absence. “But I can only go in there and do what I’m capable of […] If that’s to shoot corner threes, if that’s to get guys open shots, I’m going to do that. I’ve heard a lot of press about how with Bojan out, now what is Niang going to have to step up and do? I’m just going to go out there and be the best me that I can be there’s no added pressure.”

Likewise, Clarkson said replacing Bogdanovic can’t be done by just one member of the Jazz roster.

“All of us have to step up. Royce [O’Neale],  Mike [Conley], Donny [Mitchell.], Go down the list,” Clarkson said. “That’s a big loss for us. But like I said, everybody’s got to step up and make it happen. I think we’ve got enough talented guys that we can go out there together and compete and put out a good product.”

ESPN’s Thoughts on Jazz Replacing Bogdanovic

In the latest article from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the analyst examines the 13 most fascinating lineups that will take the floor in Orlando. The Jazz make the list, but with a lineup that features neither Clarkson nor Niang.

Lowe wrote about the projected starting lineup for the Jazz featuring Conley, Mitchell, Joe Ingles, O’Neale, and Rudy Gobert.

“Utah has a ton of plus ballhandling between Mitchell, Conley, Ingles, and Jordan Clarkson.” Lowe wrote. “Homogeneity can look like a weakness: Too many guys need the ball. But without the luxury of variety, homogeneity becomes a strength. Utah can rev up the spread pick-and-roll machine, and drive-and-kick its way to good looks. Possessions might last a little longer without Bogdanovic to finish them, but the Jazz can still be profitable.”

Lowe adds that using a starting lineup that doesn’t feature either Niang or Clarkson brings additional upside.

“Leaning on this lineup would also allow Snyder to keep together a bench trio — Clarkson, Georges Niang, and Tony Bradley — that has mauled teams.”

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