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Ex-Nets swingman Bojan Bogdanovic on magical ride with Wizards

Washington Wizards guard Bojan Bogdanovic, left, in action

Washington Wizards guard Bojan Bogdanovic, left, in action against Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell, right, during the first half of the NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on Friday, March 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. Credit: EPA / ERIK S. LESSER

WASHINGTON — For Bojan Bogdanovic, the Feb. 22 trade that sent him from the Nets to the Wizards was like an elevator ride from the outhouse to near the top of the Eastern Conference.

After going through January and February with the Nets and collecting only one win, Bogdanovic suddenly found himself surrounded by John Wall and Bradley Beal on a team that has a shot to upset defending NBA champion Cleveland for the conference title.

What’s not to like?

“I got to a better team that is playing great right now, one of the best in the league,” Bogdanovic said Friday before facing the Nets for the first time since the trade. “I think that I adjust pretty quick for all those set offenses and also all of the defensive rules we have. So, I feel great in this situation right now.

“When you have so many great players around you like Beal, Wall or Markieff Morris that are taking all of the attention defensively from the other team, for me, it was the best to stay outside and try to get some advantage from their passes. I get many wide-open looks and the fast break, too.”

In his first 16 games with the Wizards, Bogdanovic averaged 14.6 points, which is slightly higher than the 14.2 he averaged with the Nets, and all his shooting percentages have climbed, including overall from .440 to .471, three-point from .357 to .420 and effective field goal percentage from .521 to .581.

Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld was willing to spend a first-round pick for the outside threat Bogdanovic. “We were looking for a proven player, someone who can score off the bench, someone who stretches the defense and a scorer,” Grunfeld said. “He’s been all that for us. I didn’t realize he can go to the basket as well as he can.

“When you have two guards like John Wall and Bradley Beal, you need people around them that can stretch the defense out and open up the driving lanes for them. He’s a tough competitor, and he’s very versatile. He can play three positions for us – two, three or four when we want to go real small. He’s been a real nice addition.”

Bogdanovic said all the Nets new they were in for a rough season with a young roster, new general manager Sean Marks and new coach Kenny Atkinson, but when the veteran point guards Jeremy Lin and Greivis Vasquez both suffered long-term injuries, it had a crippling effect.

“It was really tough for all of us, not just me, but for the coaching staff, for all the players that were there,” Bogdanovic said. “We tried to fight through that situation.

“I see they are playing better after the All-Star break. I’ve got too much love for Brooklyn, so, I wish them all the best, really. They give me opportunity to play, to start, so, I really appreciate all of them . . . They must believe in Kenny and Sean and what they are doing, and I hope next season is going to be way, way better than this one.”

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