Bojan Bogdanovic is still trying to get comfortable.
He’s worn a brace on his surgically repaired shooting wrist, and then abandoned it. He’s tried a different way to tape it nearly every day.
“I don’t like any tape on my body, so I’m just trying to figure out what works best for me mentally, and for my wrist as well,” the Utah Jazz forward said after practice Thursday. “We have to try and tape my wrist a different way every single practice to find a way. I’m still more comfortable without anything, but I have to protect it, especially for the first couple of months.”
There are no concerns about Bogdanovic’s health.
“The surgery was a success,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “There’s no risk of damage. They’ve stayed on top of that. He’s not in harm’s way in any situation.”
But the discomfort has clearly had an impact on Bogdanovic’s game. The forward is shooting 35 percent from 3-point territory after three straight seasons above 40 percent. No spot on the floor illustrates Bogdanovic’s early season adjustment process more than the left corner 3. A season ago, Bogdanovic shot 50 percent there. This year, he’s hit just one of his first nine attempts.
Eventually, Bogdanovic knows he’ll find his comfort zone—and opposing defenses will need to watch out when that happens.
“The way I’m shooting the ball right now, you can see by percentages that it’s not what we all expect and are expecting,” he said. “But I’m still confident that I’m going to start playing better, start shooting the ball better.”
His coach and teammates aren’t worried.
“The biggest thing for him is anybody that comes back from injury, there’s a psychological component that’s involved that you have to overcome,” Snyder said. “There’s an acclimation period of learning to play through soreness. But he’s about the toughest guy that I’ve ever been around as a player.
“… He’s a competitor. He’s a talented player. Over time, he’ll be back where he wants to be. If he’s not there right now, he’s still pretty darn effective.”
Indeed. Bogdanovic is already showing positive signs. He has gone for 20 points in two of his last three games. In Cleveland on Tuesday night, Bogdanovic shot 6-for-10 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from deep.
“I remain confident,” he said, “and I’ll start to play better.”
• SHAQTIN’ OUT: Yes, Rudy Gobert saw the post. Earlier this month, Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal claimed he would have scored 45 points and had Gobert fouled out in three quarters if he’d ever matched up against him.
Gobert smirked when asked about it Thursday.
“I think he’s just doing his job,” the two-time Defensive Player of the Year said. “He’s an entertainer now. He speaks on TV. Shaq is one of the guys that I looked up to as a young basketball player, someone I respect. That doesn’t mean I respect everything that he says, but I don’t take it personally. I think he’s just doing his job. My job is to help my team win. Nothing will ever distract me from doing that.”
• EXTRA WORK: The Jazz almost certainly would not have practiced Thursday had Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards not been postponed. In what promises to be a wild season, Snyder said his team will take on challenges as they arise and try to turn them into opportunities.
“I think everybody wanted to play. That’s the nature of guys that are competitive. They look forward to playing,” he said. “But you’re aware that these things are happening throughout the league. They’ve put safety first. It doesn’t change too much of what we’re doing at this point in the season, but you want to use every opportunity you have. I think this gives guys a few minutes to work on what they need.