In case you have come this far in life without the following information, we’ve got you covered: NBA contracts matter. Utah Jazz awarded Bosnian sniper Bojan Bogdanovic a four-year, $ 72 million contract in the summer of 2019. Should they have buyer’s remorse?
The answer may not be a distinct yes or no. The Bogey Man offers the Jazz a lot of value as a 6’7 forward combo with high level ground spacing and secondary fire creation. Still, the average annual value of Bogdanovic’s contract is $ 18.25 million per year. It’s a substantial part of a team’s cover sheet. Let’s see if Bogdanovic is really worth that kind of salary for the Utah Jazz based on his offensive, defensive, and relative value to his peers.
Utah Jazz Attack
Bogdanovic is widely known for his offensive contributions, and rightly so. His value for the Utah Jazz begins behind the 3-point line, where he has shot a 40.2 percent pound sterling on 6.9 attempts per game in the two seasons since moving to Salt Lake City. That kind of ground spacing of a player capable of piloting the 4 has a bonus in today’s NBA. In fact, that almost alone justifies Bogdanovic’s contract.
Fortunately for the Jazz, this is not the only value of Bogdanovic on the offensive plan. Unlike similarly compensated ground struts (Davis Bertans paging), Bogey can create his own shot as a safety valve when Coach Snyder’s main creators are suffocated by opposing defenses. His ability to pull off a shot against tight defensive cover separates him from the ground spacing specialists. He can also put the ball on the ground and perform training if necessary.
In total, Bogdanovic scored 20.2 points per game on a highly efficient 60.3 True Shooting% (TS%) in 2019-20, the first year of his contract. He definitely made a living in the first year, but last season his production suffered a bit of slippage. Still, 17.0 points per game on a 58.8% TS is a solid value. Offensively, Bogdanovic likely exceeded his contract value in 2019-2020 and simply hit it in 2020-21.
Defense of Utah Jazz
It is noticeably more difficult to measure defensive impact than it is to measure offense. Simply put, if you don’t generate numbers, you are unlikely to have an impact on the game on the offensive side. On the other hand, it is quite possible to lock an opposing player without generating theft or blocking. Measures like Defensive Box Plus / Minus (DBPM) are somewhat helpful, but a player can still share the pitch with one or two elite defenders and rely on their DBPM effectively.
That being said, Bojan Bogdanovic’s defensive value is a bit hard to guess. Its reputation for the less glamorous side is far from stellar, and the numbers largely back that claim. During his contract with the Utah Jazz to date, he has posted negative DBPMs over both seasons, at -1.5 and -0.9. So Bogdanovic is a negative defensive asset, and that should have a negative impact on his reclassification, end of story?
Not so fast.
For those who strongly oppose opening multiple ties, Bogdanovic has defended the ball at a high level throughout these recent playoffs, garnering praise from Quin Snyder and his teammates. There’s an old cliché in basketball that some players can “flip a switch,” and that’s one possible explanation for the variance in Bogey’s defensive output.
Ultimately, the likely explanation is that Bogdanovic is a fierce competitor who has been cursed with limited lateral mobility and foot speed. He might not be an outright defensive passive, but his consistently negative DBPM scores throughout his career suggest he isn’t an asset in that regard either.
Relative Value of Utah Jazz
Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) is a metric designed to estimate the value per 100 possessions that a player has contributed compared to a replacement level player, whose value on the same metric is always -2.0. Over his two seasons with the Utah Jazz, Bojan Bogdanovic’s average VORP of 0.9 suggests he is at the very least comfortably better than a replacement.
A review of players in Bogdanovic’s overall pay bracket reveals players clearly and clearly exceeding below the value of the combo striker. If you’re following the NBA, you probably don’t need to collect advanced metrics to know that Domantas Sabonis ($ 19.8 million), Zach Lavine (19.5) and Fred VanVleet ($ 19.6) are better players than Bojan, or Eric Gordon ($ 18.2), Eric Bledsoe ($ 18.1) and Ricky Rubio ($ 17.8) are not.
Instead, we found the 2020-21 season VORP for three players in the average annual income range of $ 17-20 million which at first glance seemed roughly comparable to Bogdanovic, to see how. the $ 72 million Utah Jazz man and his 2020-21 0.7 VORP stacked against his peers.
Lonzo Ball landed a contract with the Chicago Bulls this offseason with an average annual income of $ 18.6 million. His 2020-21 VORP was 1.6. Marksmanship winger Joe Harris earns an average salary of $ 17.3 million for the Brooklyn Nets, and his VORP of 1.2 also exceeds Bogdanovic’s 0.7 mark. Finally, Indiana Pacers Stretch 5 Myles Turner earns around $ 18 million per year. His 2020-21 VORP of 0.9 narrowly surpasses Bogdanovic’s figure.
Overall, it looks like Bojan Bogdanovic’s contract is slightly more than his value, but also isn’t a blatant overpayment. It may be fair to say that it exceeded its value in 2019-2020 while being just below it in 2020-21; however, at age 32, he is more likely to decline than not.
Yet contending teams like the Utah Jazz can afford to pay veterans too much. Bojan Bogdanovic gives them reliable ground spacing and positional versatility, and ultimately the team’s front office is unlikely to deeply regret the signing.