Bojan Bogdanovic’s first training camp meeting with the media had some notable ambiguity, as he mentioned that he was thrilled with his recovery from wrist surgery but acknowledged that there were thresholds yet to cross before knowing if he’d be ready to go when the Utah Jazz play their first regular-season game Dec. 23 in Portland.
In Bogey’s second meeting with reporters, on Tuesday afternoon, he sought to eliminate any lingering doubt.
“Overall, I’m fine and I’m expecting to play at the start of the season,” Bogdanovic said on the Zoom call.
So that’s that.
For what it’s worth, those steps in his process after having May surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist remain, but he’s been happy with the progress shown thus far.
Bogdanovic said that he’s regularly been playing 5-on-5 (one of the few differences between last year’s training camp and this year’s, he added, is that there’s been more 5-on-5 play to account for the absence of organized team activities), and he’s “feeling way better” than before.
Really, one of the last remaining hurdles, in his mind, is seeing what happens when he takes a spill.
“I’m still waiting to fall on the floor pretty hard to see how my hand is going to react,” Bogdanovic said.
In the meantime, though, he’s fallen for the games of some of his new teammates.
While acknowledging that retaining the same core rotation from a year ago has helped the Jazz overcome the lack of those OTAs, and should give the Jazz the ability to get off to a quick start this season, Bogey did acknowledge that there are a few new faces to work in.
Of course, one of those new faces is actually an old face, as Derrick Favors has returned after spending last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Still, while players such as Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles are all accustomed to what Fav can do, Bogdanovic has never played with him before.
That said, he likes what he’s seen thus far.
“He’s going to be great for us. First of all, his IQ is pretty high. He’s got playoff experience, which is most important for us to have him on our team,” Bogdanovic said. “He’s going to give us the depth to play with two bigs or [to go] smaller, helping the second unit. So I’m happy that he’s with us, and I think that he’s going to be a big part of what we are doing.”
Beyond Favors, the only other two players on the main roster with NBA contracts that the Croatian sharpshooter hadn’t played with before are rookies Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes.
Still, while coach Quin Snyder and the rookies themselves have acknowledged that they face an uphill battle this season, given the extremely compressed timeline between the draft and the start of the season, plus the lack of a Summer League, the veteran forward was less pessimistic about their chances to make an immediate impact, noting, “I think that the both of them are kind of ready to step in and play some minutes.”
Azubuike, in particular, has gotten his attention.
“The big guy is pretty athletic,” Bogdanovic said. “I’m surprised. I’m surprised that he’s that good and he was drafted late first round. He’s really going hard against Rudy. Really, that can help us.”