A look at Bojan Bogdanovic’s improved off the dribble game

Bojan Bogdanovic has been a much better offensive player this year for the Indiana Pacers. He has his new dribbling skills to thank for that.

So far this year, we have had two articles going in depth on Bojan Bogdanovic’s stellar 2018-19. One of them described this season as a “quiet career year” and the other talked about his “quiet consistent scoring” for the Indiana Pacers.

There’s no more “quiet” about it. As we approach the halfway point, Bojan has kept up his insane production and looks like a reformed offensive player. All of his old skills are still there (and improved) but Bogey has added so much to his game that turned him into one hell of an offensive player.

We all know Bogey can catch and shoot. He had an effective field goal percentage of 59.5% on these shots last year, and that number is all the way up to 67% this year on a similar volume of attempts. Improving his catch and shoot numbers alone would have been a great addition to his game, but Bogey has affixed much more to his skill set.

Despite similar catch and shoot numbers, Bojan has attempts less 3-point attempts per game and more 2-point attempts than last season. Why? Because of his new secondary offensive weapon – beating his opponent off the dribble.

Bojan is taking his second highest ever percentage of his shots from 0-3 feet. This season, his average shot distance is 13.9 feet, a career-low. Both of these figures are evidence that suggests Bogdanovic is more capable of getting to his spot, something he can now do with his improved handles.

No screen, no handoff, no nothin’, Bojan Bogdanovic simply beat his matchup off the dribble and earned an and-1 as a result.

Bojan has finally channeled his handles. His gravity as a shooter – and an elite one at that – allows him to leverage a shot fake or a large amount of space in front of him into two free points.

Watch here as he does exactly that to Joel Embiid. Bojan sizes up Embiid with a few dribbles and hits him with a shot fake, and Embiid lunges. Knowing his defender is off balance, Bojan executes a perfect give and go with Domantas Sabonis for a layup:

Bogey has finally figured out how to harness his skills and get to the rim. He’s taking 48.8 percent of his shots as two-pointers after dribbling per NBA.com tracking data, up 8 percent over last year. At slightly over 5.5 of these attempts per game, Bogey has found a surrogate niche that allows him to be effective inside the arc.

He’s hitting over half of these shots, solid efficiency for a guy showing off a refined skill. His distilled off the bounce game, combined with his already unparalleled free throw and three-point shooting, has helped propel Bogdanovic into the top-20 in true shooting percentage for players with a high volume (1000+) of minutes. He’s hyper-efficient all the time.

The data on drives also paints Bogdanovic’s handles in a glamorous light. Bogey drives to the tin 5.5 times per game, up from 4.9 last year. What he is doing with those drives has improved pretty much across the board.

In 2017-18, he was getting points on 64.2 percent of his drives. This year, that number has vaulted to 74.9 percent, the third-best mark in the league for players who drive more than 5 times per game.

Althewhile he is doing that, his assist percentage and fouls drawn percentage on drives have both maintained from last year to this one. He has found a way to score far more often without sacrificing his opportunities to hit the open man or draw some contact.

Bojan’s improved handles clearly have a positive impact on the Indiana Pacers offense. The teams offensive rating is 3.3 points per 100 possessions better with Bogey on the floor. When he is out there, he acts a secondary creator, something the Pacers haven’t had in a while. That is a boon to the team’s offense.

Next: TJ Leaf is giving the Pacers some effective minutes

The Indiana Pacers need Bojan Bogdanovic’s scoring. He has the second lowest usage rate in the entire league for all players averaging 16+ points per game, only Clint Capela sees the ball less often. Bojan’s efficient offense, now enforced by a constructive off the bounce game, is keeping the Indiana Pacers offense humming.

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