Bogdan Bogdanovic is Most Valuable Player of Rising Stars Challenge
Although he’s an NBA rookie, Bogdan Bogdanovic has played in an All-Star format before.
The former EuroLeague All-Star said he prepared for Friday’s Rising Stars showcase as he would any other game. The result was a spectacular exhibition in 3-point shooting.
Bogdanovic had 26 points, four rebounds, six assists and was named Rising Stars MVP after leading the World Team to a 155-124 victory over the U.S. Team at Staples Center.
Kings teammate Buddy Hield also showed off his outside shooting, and his 29 points led the World, but Bogdanovic stole the show, often pulling up from feet beyond the arc. He is the Kings’ first Rising Stars MVP since Tyreke Evans in 2010.
“Bogi loves the big stage,” said Hield, a native of the Bahamas who shot 12 of 22 from the field and 5 of 14 from 3-point range. He also played in last season’s Rising Stars game as a New Orleans Pelicans rookie.
Bogdanovic shot 9 of 16 from the field, including 7 of 13 on 3-pointers.
“I approach every single game the same way,” the Serbian guard said. “Try to compete to be the best version of myself that day.”
Rex Kalamian, a Toronto Raptors assistant who coached the World Team, said it turned into a 3-point shootout.
His team made 23 of 56 from beyond the arc for 41.1 percent. The U.S. shot 11 of 40 from 3 (27.5 percent).
“Between Bogi and Buddy Hield, we had 55 points, and they shot the ball extremely well, obviously,” Kalamian said.
Hield said there was no competition between him and Bogdanovic to knock down outside shots.
“I got hot first and then Bogi got hot; he continued to stay hot,” Hield said. “ ... So it was good tonight for both of us. We represented Sacramento well and represented our countries well.”
But even though he was shooting well, Bogdanovic didn’t forget to play unselfishly, evidenced by his six assists.
“He’s a team-first guy,” Hield said. “You seem him out there having fun, but he’s a team-first guy. He’s a good-character guy. I love being around him and I love being his teammate.”
The third King in the game, rookie guard De’Aaron Fox, had four points and two assists for the U.S. Team.
Bogdanovic took extra joy in facing Fox.
“I told him I would score on him, so I should (have) bet as well, but we didn’t bet,” Bogdanovic said. “So I didn’t get some extra money.”
The Kings hadn’t had a player in the Rising Stars game since Isaiah Thomas in 2013, and Friday was the first time they had three players in the game.
The trio had fun joking with each other before and after the contest.
“As you can see, we have great chemistry on and off the court,” Bogdanovic said. “So we are looking forward to transferring that on the court with the Sacramento Kings.”
And about that shooting?
“It just happened tonight,” he said. “You never know when it’s going to happen.”