Among the pipe dream free agency and trade targets this offseason for the Utah Jazz, you’ll find names like Kemba Walker, Mike Conley, Tobias Harris, D’Angelo Russell and Kevin Love. On most of those lists, you won’t find pending Indiana Pacers unrestricted free agent Bojan Bogdanovic.
He might not be the sexiest name on the market, but Bogdanovic might be an under-the-radar upgrade that could help the Jazz in their quest to go from above average to true contender. Plan A is obviously to add that third star to really capitalize on the Western Conference window suddenly being open. If that’s not possible, though, the next best move would be to upgrade several spots on the roster with not-quite-All-Star level talent. That’s where targeting Bogdanovic might come into play.
In the league since 2014, Bogdanovic’s development has been steady, as he’s increased his scoring output each season, building to being the Pacers’ second leading scorer last season at 18 points per game. His shooting has also steadily improved, and he’s now gone two straight seasons at over 40% from beyond the arc, meaning Bogdanovic would be an injection of what the Jazz absolutely need the worst: shooting.
Coming off of a 2-year contract which paid him $10.5 million annually, Bogdanovic proved very valuable to the Pacers down the stretch in 2018-19, when he stepped up to lead them in scoring while holding onto playoff positioning in the East after Victor Oladipo’s injury. He went from averaging 16 points per game playing alongside Oladipo to nearly 21 points per game, with only a slight dip in efficiency.
This time spent as the primary scorer for a playoff team gives Bogdanovic experience in creating his own offense, another area Utah sorely needs help. Quin Snyder’s system has proven capable of manufacturing open looks, but when defenses effectively contain Donovan Mitchell it was obvious that last year’s iteration of the Jazz lacked secondary shot creation.
Given all of that, though, and the fact that Indiana currently only has 8 players under contract for next season, I’m not sure the Pacers are motivated to not re-sign Bogdanovic. Regardless of that, let’s dive into a scenario to see what adding him would look like for the Jazz.
Would Bogdanovic be an upgrade over Joe Ingles at small forward in the starting lineup?
Bogdanovic vs Ingles Per Game
Bogdanovic vs Ingles Advanced
(Stats via basketball-reference.com)
Looking at these numbers, would Bogdanovic be a big upgrade on Ingles in the starting lineup? I’m not sure. The shooting is there, and there’s no question Bogdanovic is the more versatile scorer and at times it’s maddening to watch no one be able to create their own shot in Utah’s offense. Bogdanovic would help with that, but Ingles’ playmaking has come up huge for the Jazz in big moments during his career in Utah, and I feel safe saying it would be a drop off defensively.
The biggest benefit to adding Bogdanovic to the starting lineup and moving Ingles to the bench would be Joe’s playmaking in a sixth man and second unit leading role. Especially if the stars align for Derrick Favors to remain in Utah, the Ingles-Favors pick and roll combination would be a lethal primary weapon against other teams’ second units.
It would keep Ingles’ minutes a little more in check as well, which would be wise as he continues to age. I think Utah will get a better Ingles with a smaller workload. Also, if, heaven forbid, Ingles were to be involved in a trade, Bogdanovic would be an adequate replacement in that small forward spot.
At the end of the day, though, if Bojan Bogdanovic is the crowning jewel of the Jazz offseason, I would be wiling to call that an abject failure in one of the most pivotal offseasons in franchise history. Adding Bogdanovic alone won’t make the Jazz a title contender next season. As part of a larger plan, however, he could become a difference maker for this team if he comes in as the third or fourth option and primarily provides outside shooting. Another 40+% 3-point shooter at nearly 5 attempts per game is exactly what the doctor ordered, especially if adding a third real star alongside Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell turns out to not be an option.