Indiana Pacers: Bojan Bogdanovic’s ascent reflects 3 franchise mistakes

Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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Indiana Pacers, Bojan Bogdanovic
Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Bojan Bogdanovic’s rise on defense proves the Indiana Pacers were foolish to let Dan Burke walk

Absolutely no one tabbed Bojan Bogdanovic as a go-to defensive stopper when he arrived in Utah. However, his impact on the defensive end in the playoffs cannot be understated, especially in their current series against the LA Clippers. In Games 1 &2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Croatian managed to slow down and even stop both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on multiple occasions, especially in the 4th quarter.

This is a cultivation of his Pacers tenure where he made big strides as a defender. In stints with Brooklyn and Washington, Bogdanovic was one of the association’s worst defenders, both in numbers and in the eye test. With Indiana and under the guidance of Nate McMillan and Dan Burke, Bojan tremendously improved in the department, even proving to be an effective defender against LeBron in the playoffs.

Of course, this vivifies the notion that the Indiana Pacers made substantial mistakes in the coaching staff last offseason. Hiring Nate Bjorkgren after an exhaustive coaching search is one thing, but not surrounding the rookie coach with a well-rounded coaching staff was a bomb waiting to explode. Dan Burke’s exit, given his renowned niche as a defensive coordinator for more than two decades, was an especially jarring loss.

Burke’s prowess as a defensive coach has been a huge part of Indiana’s defensive identity. He managed to cultivate non-defenders into effective stoppers, like Bogdanovic, Warren, Darren Collison, and the list goes on. With his absence this year, the Pacers plummeted on D. Bjorkgren’s schemes clearly didn’t work and this is where he could’ve been a difference maker with his reliance on effort and awareness on defense instead of flashy yet risky tactics.

Ultimately, Bojan Bogdanovic’s rise with the Utah Jazz makes a lot of Pacers fans proud. But in ponderance, there is no doubt that his success and the Indiana Pacers’ current decline makes a revealing intersection of what could’ve been’s for the franchise.

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