How Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough will fit with the Wizards

The Washington Wizards acquired swingman Bojan Bogdanovic and forward Chris McCullough in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets today. In return, the Wizards sent a 2017 first round pick, Andrew Nicholson, and Marcus Thornton north to Brooklyn. In Bogdanovic, the Wizards are adding much-needed depth to their bench. McCullough is a sophomore with intriguing skills, but limited minutes in the NBA. What skills will these two bring to Washington?

Bojan Bogdanovic

Shooting

This is Bogdanovic’s calling card. He may be shooting only 36%, but he is definitely a threat to get hot on any night. His shooting numbers will likely improve as he moves to the bench, rather than being the second option for a team. Bogdanovic is not shy when it comes to chucking up threes, as he often shoots them early in the shot clock before the defense can set up.  He also shoots it right away, as a trailer here too:

He’ll even shoot the three as the man bringing the ball up the court, even if it may not being a great look.

Bogdanovic is a decent catch-and-shoot player. He also shoots 40.6% on open threes, which he’ll likely have more of with a better cast around him. He has a quick, smooth release, so he’s able to get his shot up if a defender closes out well.

His sweet spots are in the corners, shooting 52.8% from the right corner, and 39.4% from the left corner. Above the break, he shoots it at 32.2%.

Creating off the dribble/Drives

This is one of the aspects of his game that he’s really improved upon this season. This season, he’s shooting 57.4% from inside 5 feet, which is solid. The threat of his shot allows him to get past defenders on a pump fake.

This season, Bogdanovic is averaging 4 free throws per game, compared to 2 per game in his previous seasons. He converts free throws at 87%. With the Wizards, he may not need to put the ball on the floor as much, but it’s still a good skill to have if he gets cold.

One thing to watch out for are his turnovers. If against a smaller defender, he’s prone to getting the ball poked away. He also tends to throw telegraphed passes off of drives.

Off-ball movement

Bogdanovic formed a pretty good pairing with Brook Lopez, where Lopez acts as a give and go man out of the post. Bogdanovic always seems to move with conviction off ball, and that leads to lots of easy buckets for him. Here, Lopez throws a lob to the cutting Bojan from the high post.

John Wall and Bradley Beal will command a lot of attention from defenses. Bojan is pretty adept at catching defenders sleeping and getting easy baskets. He gets about 2 baskets a game just from being an efficient cutter.

Defense

By any metric, Bojan Bogdanovic is a bad defender. Laterally, he’s too slow to keep up with quicker 2’s and 3’s, and often is caught ball watching.

Now, Bogdanovic may have value as a stretch four against small ball lineups. Coach Kenny Atkinson didn’t use him in that role, but his height and size makes him a decent candidate for a small ball lineup. I’m assuming something like Wall-Beal-Porter-Bogdanovic-Gortat would be pretty switch heavy on defense, which could be ideal depending on the defensive scheme.

Intangibles

Yes, Bojan Bogdanovic might not be that huge of an acquisition in the grand scheme of things. Both his strengths and weaknesses are apparent. His defensive issues may be problematic going forward, especially against playoff competition. But he should be a solid 6th or 7th man on a playoff team like the Wiz.


Chris McCullough

McCullough is a different story. It still seems like he’s learning how to play basketball, given all of his time in the D-League. He definitely will be a project going forward. The lack of the D-League team may make it difficult for him to get consistent court time.

Offense

McCullough is a smooth shooter. He has a quick, rainbow release, with range to the three-point line. He’s been a pretty decent pick and pop option for the Long Island Nets. He’s been most successful as a catch-and-shoot guy. 

He has decent post up skills, with a nice face-up game and a strong spin move. But if he’s put against a stronger defender, he has trouble setting position on the block. However, he hasn’t been able to finish consistently at the rim. Sometimes his shots look great, but other times he completely throws it wildly.

One area of concern with McCullough is his urgency. He hasn’t been a great screener, tending to avoid contact. He does pass if he can’t find his shot, but he doesn’t put enough mustard on passes, leading opposing defenders to intercept the pass. McCullough also struggles with decision making on the offensive end, where he can fall into taking contested jumpers early in the shot clock, or forcing a drive that leads to an offensive foul.

Defense

Like Bogdanovic, McCullough has struggled defensively. Using Defensive Rating, he’s a bottom 15 defender, and one of the worst big men in the D-League. But unlike Bogdanovic, his defensive struggles seem to be due to effort and IQ rather than athleticism.

McCullough is a decent on-ball defender. Everywhere else, he tends to struggle. He doesn’t understand how to defend the pick and roll. The Nets employ a zone strategy on the pick and roll, where the defender tries to contain a drive. But McCullough often looks lost, often watching the roll man streak to the rim for an easy bucket. There have been some plays where he ends up being 5-8 feet away from the closest offensive player. 

McCullough, like on the offensive end, struggles down low with stronger opponents. In the game where McCullough scored 37 points, he allowed the opposing center, Christian Wood, to drop 45 points and 15 rebounds. As was mentioned, he struggles with any sort of contact. Even a small bump from a guard pushes him out of the paint.

Outlook

McCullough is still an intriguing prospect, if given time. He has very good “box score” stats, which led to him being selected to the D-League All-Star Team. But he also is lacking in effort and IQ at times. Those aspects of his game may never develop. If he continues to put on weight, he may have a chance at being a difference maker in the NBA.

Bojan Bogdanovic is a strong long-term piece for the Wizards going forward, although his restricted free agent status may make it difficult for him to be retained. McCullough is a project. But all in all, the Wizards were able to acquire a solid piece and get rid of a bad contract. Going forward, Bogdanovic will give the Wizards starters some relief and strong shooting.


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