After multiple short, action-packed, and unorthodox off-seasons, we’ve returned to a tradition (and highly uneventful) August month in the annual NBA cycle. Bottlenecked by potential blockbuster trades involving stars Donovan Mitchell and Kevin Durant, the NBA trade market finds itself in a serious drought. Yet as we near the start of training camp in late September, it's an inevitability that pressures to acquire more talent will fall on teams across the league (looking at you, New York Knicks). Until then, we can only speculate on what kind of deals may happen before the first tip-off of the 2022-23 season.
So speculate we will! The Utah Jazz will likely commence on their first rebuild since the 2013-14 season, and are poised to sit as one of the largest sellers in the NBA market. Outside of Donovan Mitchell, the bulk of Utah’s tradable assets fall on the wrong side of thirty: Rudy Gay (36), Mike Conley (34), Patrick Beverly (34), Bojan Bogdanovic (33), and Jordan Clarkson (30).
For me, the player that stands out as the most valuable in that group is Bojan Bogdanovic. Last season, Bogdanovic put up solid averages of 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game on 45.5/38.7/85.8 percent shooting splits. On the offensive end, Boganovic had one of his most impactful seasons to date: according to Bball Index, Bogdanovic posted a career second-best 3.60 LEBRON WAR and career-high 1.68 O-LEBRON. Off his stellar shooting alone, Bogdanovic can create amazing gravity on the perimeter, spacing out defenses and allowing ball-handlers on his team to drive into the paint with less congestion.
But while he’s still a strong offensive talent, we have to acknowledge that Bogdanovic has regressed as a defender. In Utah’s playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Bogdanovic showed that he can play with high energy and hold his own against slower players, but the statistics show that his impact isn’t great. Last season, Bogdanovic posted a lowly D-LEBRON of -1.44 and D-RAPTOR of -2.4, slotting him towards the bottom of players who clocked in at least 2,000 minutes. For teams interested in Bogdanovic, this will wave as the biggest red flag.
Given that Bogdanovic sits on an expiring deal worth around 19.5 million dollars, teams wouldn't have to worry about paying him past this upcoming season. I don’t expect for him to experience wild levels of regression, especially since over his three seasons in Utah, his production has been pretty consistent. Because of this, I think Bogdanovic could net the Utah Jazz a first-round pick.
As for potential trade candidates, the Los Angeles Lakers stand as the most obvious choice. Deals with them could either center around Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn, or something larger around Russel Westbrook. In both cases, I’d expect the Jazz to receive some form of draft capital.
The Sacramento Kings are also an intriguing trade partner. If they are serious about becoming a playoff team, a trade involving their 2023 first-round pick could benefit both teams. The salaries on that deal become tricky and I’d assume SAC would want protections on picks 1-10, but it’s an interesting possibility.
In the end, some contender in the league will find value in trading for Bogdanovic. He’s been one of my favorite Jazz players over the last three seasons, and I hope Utah can find him a destination where he can play winning basketball.