NBA

Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Bogdan Bogdanovic: The best rookie nobody's talking about

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When the Sacramento Kings selected De'Aaron Fox with the number five pick in this year's draft, he received most of the attention and was immediately hailed as the future star of the franchise.

But as the season has gone on, it has become apparent that Fox may not be the best rookie on his team.

He's been flying under the radar for much of the year but the Kings may have unearthed a potential gem in Bogdan Bogdanovic and the rest of the league is starting to take notice.

Maturity

Having played in Europe for many years and represented the Serbia national team at major tournaments, Bogdanovic should not really be looked as a rookie but more or less a seasoned pro.

At 25, it hasn't taken him long to prove that he has the tools to be an effective NBA player. Midway through his first season, he's finding his stride and is becoming a valuable member of the Sacramento roster.

In the early part of the campaign, he was trying too hard to fit in and find a role for himself but he's finally come out of his shell and is oozing with confidence.

In one of his most recent outings against the Utah Jazz, Bogdanovic hit a career-high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from long range.

"I've said it all year, he's not really a rookie, he's been playing pro ball for so many years," Fox said of his backcourt partner, per NBC Bay Area.

"He definitely doesn't play like a rookie. He brings the intelligence, the savvy, the shooting - defensively, he gets after it. He's able to do everything for us."

For the season, the shooting guard is averaging 11.4 points, 3.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three-point range.

With head coach Dave Joerger opting to give more minutes to his younger players recently, the man from Serbia will now have plenty of opportunities to assert himself and show what he's all about.

Breaking out

Bogdanovic has elevated his game this month as he's posted 14.8 ppg, 4.0 apg and 3.5 rpg on 50.4 percent shooting. The former Fenerbahce star has logged just over 30 minutes per game during that stretch.

"I'm working every single day as hard as I can, I'm trying to be the best version of (myself)." Bogdanovic said after his career night in Utah.

He's not your typical NBA rookie and it's already evident that he has an experience and maturity that will help him become a solid player in the league.

The Kings may have stumbled on a dynamic backcourt of Bogdanovic and Fox that could help them compete in the years to come with both players able to play on and off the ball.

After taking on the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month, Gregg Popovich - who knows a thing or two about overseas talent - was full of praise for the Sacramento wing.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

"He's really got a high basketball I.Q.," said Popovich, per NBA.com. "He understands innately how to play the game. He's built for it mentally, whether it's shooting the ball or understanding spatial arrangements.

"He's a pretty good athlete, but he's a fantastic basketball player. He's not intimidated by the NBA, he's played in a lot of big games. You don't have to play in the NBA to play in big games, they do that all around the world."

This is a ringing endorsement from the best coach in the league and it shows that the Kings have a special talent on their hands.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

The former Euroleague star has all the skills to succeed in this current NBA with his playmaking and outside shooting.

Now that we've seen what he's capable of, it's up to him to unlock his true potential and make himself a feared player in this league.

Topics:
Sacramento Kings
Pacific Division
Western Conference
NBA
Willie Cauley-Stein

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