A small sample of watching Bogdan Bogdanovic play is enough to see the NBA is not too big for him.
Still, there are nuances the 25-year-old Kings rookie from Serbia has had to master. Some of them are very simple.
“I didn’t know how to call timeout,” Bogdanovic said after Friday’s practice at Emerson College. “(Coach Dave Joerger) said bring the ball to the side. I said, ‘Bring the ball to the side?’ Maybe so I have better space?”
Despite the learning curve, Bogdanovic is quickly gaining trust from coaches and teammates. He’s recovered from a sprained ankle that cost him the first three games of the regular season and is now the starting small forward. He’s enjoying NBA life, on and off the court.
At 6-foot-6, Bogdanovic lacks ideal height to play the position, but as guard Garrett Temple noted, Bogdanovic’s smarts and broad shoulders giving him the know-how and strength to manage.
“He may not know the ins-and-outs of the NBA game, but he’s a guy that’s really meshed and transitioned well,” Temple said. “He’s a guy that can really create, he’s a workhorse. You’ve got to kick him out of the gym to get some rest.”
Making Temple look prophetic, Bogdanovic was the last player off the court Friday.
He does manage to rest – one area he really likes about the NBA, especially on the road.
“Overseas you usually have roommates, here you stay single,” Bogdanovic said. “And you set your own plans. Say you come into Boston or Detroit and you have a friend there, you can go and see them. You have practice and then the rest of the day is off so you can chill out with your friends, you can have some fun times in the city.”
NBA players all have their own habits on the road and are expected to be professional enough to be ready to play on game day. In Europe, there was less flexibility.
“Overseas you generally practice at night so you don’t have time,” Bogdanovic said. “And you have everything organized, sleeping time, coffee breaks, meetings. They want to keep you focused on the game. Here everyone has time and recuperation for the game, so that’s what I like.”
His basketball IQ stands out on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 1.4 steals. Coaches and teammates often reiterate that he is not a “real rookie” based on his international experience.
How to call timeout has been settled. The NBA’s defensive three-seconds rule is still an adjustment, but Bogdanovic does not feel as if he’s constantly in catch-up mode.
“The game is obviously a lot faster, more physical,” Bogdanovic said. “The athletes are bigger, they have size. You have guards, they are like centers in Europe. It’s really tough to adjust but it takes some time, like every single player, first year, first couple of games, but I think I’m adjusting well – and fast.”