Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic received medical clearance and was expected to make his season debut when the team opened a four-game home stand against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.
Bogdanovic missed the first 10 games of the season while recovering from two offseason surgeries on his left knee. He had arthroscopic surgery in April to repair a slight tear of the medial meniscus and underwent a second procedure in September after re-injuring the knee while playing a FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifier for Serbia.
The Kings went 6-4 to start the season in Bogdanovic’s absence, matching the team’s best start since 2004-05. Bogdanovic said sitting out was difficult and he was eager to rejoin a team that ranks among the league leaders in scoring and pace after finishing last in both categories in 2017-18.
“We (are) playing (with) better pace, for sure,” Bogdanovic said. “We play faster and we move (the) ball better. I can tell we are better than last year, especially in basketball IQ.”
Bogdanovic participated in practices Saturday and Tuesday before being evaluated by the team’s medical staff Wednesday morning.
“I’m out of condition and shape, obviously,” Bogdanovic said Tuesday. “Mentally, I feel like I am 100 percent.”
Bogdanovic started 52 games as a rookie last season, averaging 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game for a team that went 27-55. He earned All-Rookie second-team honors and was named MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge after scoring 26 points to lead Team World over Team USA during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Kings coach Dave Joerger had not indicated how he would use Bogdanovic prior to Wednesday’s game, but the 6-foot-6 wing will likely see backup minutes at shooting guard and small forward until his conditioning improves. Bogdanovic might very well move into the starting lineup at some point, but for now he could be a big addition to a struggling second unit that would benefit from having a primary scorer and playmaker to pair with rookie big man Marvin Bagley III.
Bogdanovic said he was excited about joining a team that averaged 118.7 points over the first 10 games while running an up-tempo offense predicated on space and pace. Bogdanovic, who shot 39.2 percent from 3-point range last season, and his teammates believe the Serbian sharpshooter will be a perfect fit for that style of play.
“I see a lot of open shots for me and my team is making it look easy,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s easy to play with these guys. They are smart and athletic, and they know how to play basketball.”