Quietly, Bojan Bogdanovic is consistently scoring for the Indiana Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 08: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates after making a shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 8, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 08: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates after making a shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 8, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Bojan Bogdanovic often is described as a streaky shooter, but it is easy to forget how important he is to the Indiana Pacers, especially on offense.

Whenever he has a bad game, it is easy to call Bojan Bogdanovic a streaky shooter. The Indiana Pacers’ small forward often takes the blame when things go wrong as he’s seen as merely being a shooter. A 3-point performance in a game where the entire team struggled is all it took to see get talk of his ‘streakiness’ going.

Despite only having three two-game streaks of scoring in the single digits last season — and only one rolled into a rough five-game stretch — he’s often talked about as a third or fourth option for Indiana.

And he is so much more than that.

Victor Oladipo is clearly the Pacers’ primary scorer — to a fault — but Indiana relied on Bogdanovic as a second or third option almost more than any player.

Thanks to this nifty table from Saurabh Rane, we can see that Bojan actually was one of Indiana’s primary scoring option 16 times, a number only matched by Domantas Sabonis, the bench’s most reliable option last season. Bogdanovic led the way as Indiana’s secondary scorer in 35 games.

But so what? Why does that matter?

In those 35 games, Indiana’s winning percentage stood at 60 percent while Bojan averaged 15.2 points a game on 47.8 percent shooting. It’s no surprise either that in those 16 games where he served as a primary option he scored 21.3 points (on 56.4 percent shooting) and the Pacers won 75 percent of those games.

Bogdanovic more often than not was that second-hand man to Oladipo, and the Pacers were better off for it when he was. He did it without eating up possessions, too. Only three times was his usage rate of more than 25 percent.

Compared to the rest of the roster, only when Thaddeus Young was a primary option did Indiana win a higher percentage of games. However, that happened less often than when Bojan was the other guy leading Indiana’s offense. And that’s the story going down through the numbers for the players.

Mythbusters, Pacers Edition: Bojan Bogdanovic isn’t streaky

Defining ‘streakiness’ in general, much less by 3-point shooting, is tricky. One shot can take a “bad” night (1 of 4, a 25 percent night) and turn it into a “good” one (2 of 5, or 40 percent). Even I’m guilty of calling Bojan streaky, but to my defense, I wrote that just after his an unusual prolonged cold spell last season that many players have at one point or another.

If 33 percent shooting from beyond the arc is a baseline, then Bojan had 29 games where he shot less than that. Out of 80 games, 36 percent of them are “bad” shooting nights. For comparison, two seasons ago Stephen Curry played 79 games and was a “bad” shooter in 29 percent of them. Oladipo’s “bad” 3-point shooting night percentage was 35 percent last season.

Obviously, there’s a difference in role and volume when you compare Bogdanovic to Curry and Oladipo, but it’s hard to define an exact definition for what makes a shooter streaky. Bogdanovic often gets labeled as only a shooter, so these bad nights stick out more for some even if his defense is passable at worst.

More from 8 Points, 9 Seconds

Just looking at his splits from last season, December and January were the only months he shot under 33 percent. He did struggle in those 29 games and his scoring average dropped to 11.4 points, but it hardly seems he was responsible solely for December being the only month Indiana had a losing record at 7-8. Even if that’s true, then he deserves some credit for the 10-5 record the Pacers posted a month later.

For what it’s worth, if you look at Bojan’s percentages by game, he rarely went more than back to back with sub-.500 shooting overall. And these cold spells were sandwiched by better nights because after all, he shot 40.2 percent from deep last season.

It seems a little unfair to both consider him only a shooter, and even with that, to call him streaky. Even if was only a shooter, he managed to score the 50th most points in the league last season, and 78th in points per a game. If he is streaky, somehow he manages to score the team’s second-most points while never scoring more than 29 in a game.

Bogdanovic isn’t going to shooter over 40 percent from deep every night, but it’s hard to explain how he scored the second-most points on the Pacers roster last season if he was cold more often than not.

Maybe Bojan Bogdanovic is simply an above average shooter and a human who is going to have some off nights. If that makes him streaky, then you can describe most of the players in the NBA that way as well.

Math, for the win

If a more average person’s way of arguing Bojan’s consistency didn’t do the trick, perhaps some cold, hard math will.

I’ll let our friends at Nylon Calculus do the explaining, but if you calculate which players in the NBA are the most consistent, Bojan Bogdanovic settles in around the middle at the 51st percentile. Right around the league average.

What Bojan deals with more than anything is perception versus reality. As mentioned above, Bojan scored the 50th most points in the league last season without ever scoring more than 29 points. He couldn’t do that if he wasn’t consistently scoring.

Bojan quietly and consistently gets around 14 points a game but doesn’t often go off for 20 or more… but just as seldom scores under 10 points. He drops in a pair of 3-pointers and sneaks in a few other buckets, so it’s easy to overlook how quickly that adds up over a season.

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His consistency would mean little if he wasn’t scoring around 14 points a game, but the Indiana Pacers can count on him more often than not to power the offense behind Victor Oladipo.