Bojan Bogdanovic is coming off the best season of his career. The 6-foot-8 Croatian sharpshooter was a big reason why the Indiana Pacers continued to win last season, even after All-Star guard Victor Oladipo went down with a leg injury in January. (Bogdanovic averaged 16.8 points and 1.8 assists before the All-Star break and 20.9 points and 2.5 assists after.) The newest member of the Utah Jazz sat down with UtahJazz.com to discuss his game, his fit in Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s offense, and what excites him about coming to Utah.
utahjazz.com: What intrigued you about playing for the Jazz?
Bogdanovic: “Just seeing that the Jazz are a real contender every single year. Last year, we had 50 wins in the West and seeing all these free agents coming to our side and our way, makes me really, really excited. I cannot wait to start preseason and the first regular season games.
utahjazz.com: Do you know any of the guys on the team already?
Bogdanovic: “I used to play a lot of games against Joe [Ingles] and Rudy [Gobert]. We’ll have time to get to know each other a little better.”
utahjazz.com: You’ve had career-best 3-point percentages the past two seasons. What’s helped you improve?
Bogdanovic: “I’ve been working a lot during the summertime, especially this summer when I don’t have my national team. Every single year, I put a step to improve my game. Last year, when Victor [Oladipo] went down in Indy, I’m the first option offensively. I ran a lot of pick-and-roll. I was the first option and I really took that step.”
utahjazz.com: Did you know you could be a team’s No. 1 option?
Bogdanovic: “Of course, but I always had a lot of teammates that are great players like I will have here in Donovan, Mike, Joe, Rudy. It’s going to be a deep roster for us. You have to fit yourself in and that’s how I played in Indy. But when Victor went down, I kind of stepped up and took the role as a leader.”
utahjazz.com: How do you think your offensive skills will fit with the Jazz?
Bogdanovic: “Before Victor got hurt, everybody considered me a shooter but I knew what I was capable of doing. I can play pick-and-roll, iso. Here with Donovan and Mike, two great offensive players, I will just try to fit right in with them. Having Donovan and Mike playing with the ball and creating off the dribble is going to be easy for all of us to be on the perimeter. There are a lot of combinations for us. It’s going to be an exciting year.”
utahjazz.com: You’ve only missed three games the past two seasons combined. How much pride do you take in that?
Bogdanovic: “That’s how I’m built. I don’t like to miss practices or games. I’m kind of superstitious. If I miss a game or practice, I think I will play bad the next day. That’s how I’m built. I love to play. I love to compete, no matter if it’s practice or a game.”
utahjazz.com: This is a defensive-minded team, how do you fit in there?
Bogdanovic: “The Jazz have always been a franchise that is really tough to play against. This arena has been really tough. They always play great defense. I’ve improved my defense the last couple of years, my footwork. I hope we’re going to find a great chemistry as soon as possible.”
utahjazz.com: What is it like to play here as a visitor?
Bogdanovic: “One of the toughest arenas to play in because of the crowd and also because of the coaching system and defense. I’m really happy to be on this side, a better side.”
utahjazz.com: What do you think about playing for Quin Snyder?
Bogdanovic: “I just talked to him a couple minutes ago. He’s cool. I’ve heard a lot of great things about him. He was coaching in Europe, too. He’s one of the best coaches in the league for sure.”
utahjazz.com: Does the No. 44 have any special meaning for you?
Bogdanovic: “Actually, there is no specific reason. I used to wear No. 7 with my national team in Croatia. Then when I signed with Fenerbahce in Turkey, 7 was worn by the best player. I had to pick a new number.”
utahjazz.com: For the first time, you’re not playing with your national team this summer. Can that help you prepare for the NBA season?
Bogdanovic: “It’s going to be huge for me. There are a still a couple of months left until the season opener. This is my first season that I’m free, so I finally have time to rest my body, my mind, and also to work on my game. I’m trying to do everything right now to improve.”
utahjazz.com: What should Jazz fans know about your personality?
Bogdanovic: “I’m a big soccer fan. My favorite player is Ronaldo, but the real Ronaldo. The Ronaldo from Brazil. I love to go to the theater and watch movies when I have a chance. My favorite movie is “Troy”. I like history. I’m kind of a quiet guy.”
utahjazz.com: Any final message for Jazz fans?
“I’m so excited to be here. I can’t wait for the preseason to start.”