Plan A for the Utah Jazz this offseason may have been Nikola Mirotic and another player. But they did even better for themselves by adding Bojan Bogdanovic.
It’s been an offseason for the history books for Utah Jazz fans as the team has remained aggressive in re-tooling as they aim to put together a championship contending unit. One of the most exciting new faces they’ve added is Bojan Bogdanovic, who is a three-point shooting extraordinaire who should add a whole new dynamic to Utah’s offense while upholding their staunch and resilient defense.
But, according to a former report by The New York Times’ Marc Stein and a more recent confirmation by The Athletic’s Tony Jones, Bojan wasn’t Utah’s first target to add that shooting lift. No, originally they were looking at stretch-four Nikola Mirotic.
Before heading into the free agent frenzy, I had pointed out that if the Jazz were to make a 1-for-1 swap, essentially parting ways with Derrick Favors to add Nikola Mirotic, it would be a big mistake. Niko adds some nice things, to be sure, as a capable deep-ball shooter, but his lack of defensive prowess and questionable decision making were two of several red flags that had me less than sold on his addition.
Factor in that Stein reported the Jazz were looking to add him on a three-year, $45 million contract, and I was even less enthused. However, Jones, who is as close to knowing the pulse of the Jazz as they come, provided some additional key insight after the fact.
As you can see in the tweet below, he debunked the report that the Jazz were going to extend Mirotic $15 million per yer and instead indicated that Utah’s plan was to bring in Mirotic and another player (in essence someone right around Ed Davis‘ room exception salary) to replace Favors’ salary amount.
Without being able to make a completely informed decision with no knowledge as to who that second player was going to be, I would have been much more open to bringing in two impact players at the cost of one. I had my reservations about Mirotic being the right power forward fit for the Jazz, but I definitely see the appeal and the second player added in addition may have very well tipped the scale for me.
Nevertheless – again, without knowing who that player was which could potentially change my mind I suppose – I believe the Jazz made the right choice, even if Mirotic hadn’t bolted for Spain, in going for Bogdanovic.
I’ve already praised him unabashedly here on The J-Notes for what he’ll bring to the team and what he’ll mean to Jazz fans. Beyond just being a three-point extraordinaire (and a much better and more consistent one than Mirotic, at that), he’ll bring much more creation offensively, better awareness off the ball, enhanced passing, and a far superior defensive effort.
Mirotic has the potential to be a nice role player. Bogey has the potential to be a prolific third scoring option for the Jazz, which is exactly the part he figures to play in this Utah offense. While he excels more at the three than the four, which is where you could argue that Niko may have been the better choice, aside from that he’s the better all-around player, the better shooter and the better culture fit based on work ethic and defensive focus alone for the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz deserve major props for pivoting so excellently from targeting Mirotic, who surprisingly fell off the board, to landing an absolute stud in Bogdanovic. Depending on how things went down behind the scenes, you could glean that Bogey was somewhat of a Plan B and a shift from the original plan, but I think it absolutely worked out in Utah’s favor.
Adding Bogdanovic was the best move all along – with the possibility of adding a second player beside Mirotic or not – and the Jazz got a seamless fit.
Consider also how well Utah has recovered filling in the frontcourt hole with additions such as Ed Davis and Jeff Green, and it’s quite possible that the front office themselves feel better about pivoting off of Mirotic and the unknown second target and going for Bogey. The Jazz boast three players in Bogdanovic, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley who can explode for 30-plus points on any given night. They also have adequate frontcourt depth to go along with it.
In short, they’re looking exceptionally solid. The front office has put together an incredible squad, even if the roster did turn out a little differently than originally intended going into the offseason. Bogdanovic was an incredible pickup and the right choice to enable this squad to take a significant leap in the 2019-20 season.