Written by Chris Kubala
As we continue to wait for the potential return of the NBA and the NHL to complete their seasons in some form or fashion, not to mention for major league baseball to kick their season off, there have been some issues that have cropped up outside the playing surface. While there have been plenty of off-field incidents and brushes with the law that have grabbed plenty of headlines of late, there are also injury issues that could impact things as teams hope to make a run at a title. In some cases, the break has been beneficial for injured players to heal and prepare for a return. For others, it proved to have no impact on whether a player returns or not on the year.
It was announced on Monday that the Utah Jazz would lose a major contributor to their success for the rest of the season. Bojan Bogdanovic was scheduled to undergo surgery on his right wrist Tuesday, which would end his season. He has been dealing with an injury to his scapholunate ligament near the end of the 2019 calendar year but played on despite the pain of the injury up until the league paused for the COVID-19 pandemic. Bogdanovic made the choice to undergo the surgery at this point in time in order to have time to recover and rehabilitate in time for the 2020-21 season, whenever that may tip-off.
The blow is a big one for the Jazz as Bogandovic proved to be a big contributor on the offensive end of the floor for Utah in his first season with the team. He signed a four-year, $73 million deal in free agency with the Jazz after spending two years with the Pacers. Prior to that, Bogdanovic spent the first two and a half seasons with the Nets before playing 26 games with the Wizards after a trade in February 2017. He inked a deal with the Pacers at the end of the 2016-17 campaign.
Bogdanovic was putting together a stellar year for the Jazz this season. He was averaging a career-high 20.2 points plus 4.1 rebounds per game. His shooting had tapered off a bit as he was hitting 44.7 percent from the floor compared to his 49.7 percent mark in 2018-19 with Indiana. Part of that is from an uptick in three-point attempts this season. Bogdanovic had fired up 457 three-point attempts in 63 games this season compared to 386 in 81 games with Indiana last year. He was solid shooting from out there though, knocking down 41.4 percent from beyond the arc on the season. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Bogdanovic was one of two players this season in the NBA to knock down 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton is the other.
With Bogdanovic missing the rest of the year, Utah is going to have to develop some secondary scoring to help out Donovan Mitchell for the postseason run. Joe Ingles, who was the starter at small forward before Utah picked up Bogdanovic and who has been serving as the sixth man this season, likely steps back into the starting five. He has averaged 9.8 points, four rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season for the Jazz. Like Bogdanovic, he can shoot from the outside, knocking down 39.7 percent from three-point range this season and 40.7 percent from beyond the arc in his career. Coupled with Mike Conley, the Jazz has solid veterans to work with but will they be able to overcome the loss of Bogdanovic’s production and flair for knocking down clutch jumpers?
Utah went into the pause second in the Northwest Division with a 41-23 record, leaving them 1.5 games behind the Nuggets for the Northwest Division lead. The Jazz held a one-game edge over the Thunder and Rockets for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, which would give them home-court advantage in the opening round.