The Bogdan Bogdanovic signing this past offseason was more celebrated than any other, including Danilo Gallinari, who is being paid a higher annual salary. Bogi inked a four-year, $72 million deal in restricted free agency but only played in nine games before going down with an injury. He’s now been back for 13 games, starting the last three, and he’s finally finding his groove.
The Hawks have experienced exponential growth under Nate McMillan. Atlanta is still meshing and learning how to play with each other, but the decision to move off Lloyd Pierce has been met by an increased focus, better team defense, and consistent offense down the stretch. In an interview with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, Bogdanovic spoke on several topics, including the changes under McMillan.
Kirschner asked Bogi about his role before the injury; he was used more as a spot-up shooter instead of a secondary initiator. He attributed the limited role to the new situation and wanting to build trust with the team, noting the second unit was new and that he wanted to run and let the game come to him instead of forcing things.
Bogi then went into the immediate difference between playing under Pierce and McMillan. He said the two coaches used him differently, noting each’s stylistic approach on the offensive end. Since the All-Star break, the Hawks have been running more designed plays, attempting to get everyone involved. Prior to that, Pierce’s Hawks played a much more free game with the liberty to run whatever. McMillan is more of an old-school coach, who can get Atlanta to the next level, Bogi said.
Kirschner then inquired about the specifics of how there is now a concerted effort to move the ball and move off-ball more, especially on the perimeter. Bogi confirmed that, and then finished up the interview by talking about the similarities of De’Aaron Fox and Trae Yong. He said how easy it is to play alongside guys like that because they garner so much attention — sliding in that both electric offensive players are the future of this league.
We all knew on paper this team has improved under McMillan, but to hear it from someone like Bogdanovic — who is a well-respected veteran in the league — makes it even more obvious that the move away from Pierce was warranted. The team had love for Pierce, and rightfully so; he was a fantastic person that helped in so many different ways around Atlanta. But the praise for McMillan isn’t a back-handed compliment towards Pierce; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Pierce helped this team grow, but McMillan is taking things to another level.
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