Atlanta Hawks: Has Bogdan Bogdanovic been the key to the turnaround?

Atlanta Hawks Bogdan Bogdanovic (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Hawks Bogdan Bogdanovic (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) /

Bogdan Bogdanovic has helped fuel an impressive turnaround from the Atlanta Hawks this season. 

Through the first 40 games of the season, I’m not sure you could say that the Atlanta Hawks were nothing more than average. They were 20-20, sitting towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and were trending towards finishing as somewhat of a disappointment after an offseason in which they didn’t hold back.

However, over the last 20 games or so, it’s almost as if something has clicked for the Hawks. Since being 20-20 on March 17, the Hawks have gone 14-7 and are now tied for fourth in the East standings.

One additional big change that has been evident since the Hawks have played better as a unit has been the improved play of Bogdan Bogdanovic. After suffering a knee injury that cost him 25 games this season, something has clicked Bogdanovic over the last 21 games.

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Bogdanovic has looked more comfortable and has been more effective for the Hawks. In turn, Atlanta has moved up the playoff standings and has the look of a team that is ready to become a dark horse threat in the East.

Bogdanovic’s turnaround has propelled the Atlanta Hawks

During his first 15 games played with the Hawks, Bogdanovic looked apprehensive and that reflected in his inconsistency on the court. During those first 15 games, Bogdanovic averaged 8.5 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 22 minutes of action per game. He also shot just 37 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range.

However, during the last 21 games with the team, Bogdanovic has looked like a completely different player and the stats reflect that. During that stretch, in which the Hawks have gone 14-7, Bogdanovic is averaging 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 33 minutes of action per night. He’s also shooting 50 percent from the field and 48 percent shooting from 3-point range.

With John Collins missing nine of those games during that span, Bogdanovic has emerged as the team’s second option on the offensive end and he’s answered the call. Even when just watching the Hawks play, Bogdanovic just seems like he fits. I’m not sure that was always the case when watching the Hawks during their first 40 games of the season.

It’s actually not surprising. When you think about it, this is a team that added (essentially) four new rotation players from last season to this season. They didn’t have a traditional offseason (due to the pandemic) and its two best players are still under the age of 23. And going through a head-coaching change (from Lloyd Pierce to Nate McMillan in early March) could have been easy either.

The Hawks needed time to mesh and find their rhythm as a unit. At least for now, it appears that they have. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, with just a handful of games remaining before the playoffs.

This could be a chicken or the egg situation. Did Bogdanovic get comfortable with his role with the team because of changes made by McMillan, or did Bogdanvovic finally get healthy around the time when McMillan took over as coach?

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Either way, it should be no surprise that the Hawks’ improved play has coincided with Bogdanovic’s hot streak.