Last week, when the NBA's moratorium ended and teams were allowed to officially start making trades, the Milwaukee Bucks got right down to business. Within a day, they had swung trades for Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic, putting together what would have been a truly terrific starting five.
Only, it turned out they were a little too eager. The Bogdanovic agreement, which would have been a sign-and-trade with the Kings, fell apart over the next few days and now the Serbian guard is a member of the Hawks. In the aftermath, Milwaukee regrouped and made some solid veteran signings, but only time will tell if they did enough to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign his five-year supermax extension.
They are reportedly cautiously optimistic about their chances of keeping the back-to-back MVP, but not being able to finalize the Bogdanovic acquisition was a big blow that will make it more difficult to prove they've put a championship quality roster around him. Nothing makes that more clear than the fact that the Antetokounmpo brothers -- Giannis and Thanasis -- spent the summer calling Bogdanovic to try and convince him to play in Milwaukee, according to a report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
It's too late for the Bucks now, but why was one of the best players in the league so eager to add Bogdanovic? The swingman isn't exactly a household name due to the fact that didn't arrive in the NBA until he was 25 years old, and has spent the past three seasons playing for the Kings, during which time the team has won a total of 97 games and made zero playoff appearances.
But while most casual fans were watching other teams and players, Bogdanovic was establishing himself as an all-around offensive threat, and a respected competitor. One of the league's hardest workers himself, Giannis reportedly saw Bogdanovic as someone he could rely on in the playoffs, according to Fischer's report. That's high praise, and that competitive spirit will be a big boost to a young Hawks team looking to break into the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Even if he doesn't have the attention of the general public, those in the league know and respect his game. Just take this quote from Gregg Popovich in the middle of Bogdanovic's rookie season. Via NBC Sports Bay Area:
"He really understands innately how to play the game. He's just built for it mentally, whether it's shooting the ball or understanding spatial arrangements on the court, who he's playing with, what shot's good, what shot's not, how to play with his teammates. He's really got a high basketball IQ. On top of that, he's got good skills. He handles the ball, he passes, he shoots. He doesn't have any fear, he's not intimidated by the NBA and he comes right in and plays."
The legendary Spurs coach isn't one to hand out effusive praise like that to just anyone. If you've earned that sort of respect from Popovich, it's a sign you're doing a lot right.
As for his skills, Bogdanovic can do a little bit of everything, putting up 15.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season, while shooting 37.2 percent from 3-point land. He's perfectly capable of playing on or off the ball, where he can create his own shot with ease, is a solid pick-and-roll player and will knock down catch-and-shoot 3s on a consistent basis -- 40.7 percent on five attempts per game last season. And though not a masterful defensive player, he has good size on the wing, tries hard and is usually in the right place, which altogether is more than half the battle on the side of the ball.
In short, he's just a guy you want on your team. Is he going to show up and single-handedly lead you to the playoffs? No, but he would have been an incredible third option behind Giannis and Khris Middleton, and was exactly the type of secondary creator they needed.
The Bucks' loss is the Hawks' gain, and now he'll help make Atlanta one of the most interesting teams in the league next season. Along with Bogdanovic, the Hawks brought in Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo, and are clearly making a push for the playoffs. It obviously remains to be seen if the Hawks will get there, but they have a much better chance now than they did before signing Bogdanovic.