DENVER — Yes, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are players that deserve a lot of attention on a scouting report. Players like Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson also demand detailed planning. But Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone is quick to point out that there is another Utah Jazz player that has had the Nuggets’ number.

“Bogdanovic has kicked our butt,” Malone said before the Jazz’s 125-102 win over the Nuggets on Sunday night. “Last year he averaged 31 a game in head-to-head meetings, he had 36 in the game about a week or so ago and the funny thing is, if you would have told me that Bogdanovic scored 36 I would have asked, how many 3’s did he have? He only made one 3 in that game. He got to the foul line 13 times where he was 11-for-13, and he hurt us in the post. So we have to account for Bogdanovic tonight.”

First of all, I was impressed that Malone committed to memory how many free throws Bogdanovic made on Jan. 5 and had his 2020-21 stats ready to roll off the top of his head. But, that kind of attention to detail proves just how much the Nuggets worry about what Bogdanovic can do.

Analysis: How the Jazz looked more like themselves in beating Nuggets, snapping losing skid

There are two teams in the league that Bogdanovic has scored 30 points or more against three times. One is Minnesota, and the other is Denver. Bogdanovic’s career-best 48 points was scored against the Nuggets last season — which broke his previous career-highs of 37 (against Minnesota) and 36 (against the Nuggets).

He plays well against the Nuggets, and even when he isn’t scoring 30-plus and hitting 3-pointers, he is able to find other ways to remain a scoring threat.

“There isn’t anything specific, I’m trying to play every single game the same way,” Bogdanovic said when asked about his effectiveness against Denver. “I had a great first quarter both in this game and the last game (against the Nuggets) so that kind of allowed me to be even more aggressive. But there’s nothing in particular for why I play well against them.”

View Comments

Although Malone went into the night wanting to make sure that Bogdanovic was challenged and accounted for, he came away from the game again looking at how much Bogdanovic was able to do.

“He’s getting the ball in the post against smaller guys and he’s driving around people, he’s getting to the free-throw line,” Malone said. “He was 1-for-4 from 3. Last time he was 1-for-6, so it’s not the 3-point line, which he has the ability to do. But, six free throw attempts tonight, five assists, 21 points — obviously 21 is a much better number than the last time we played him when he had 36 — he’s a really talented basketball player.”

Maybe it’s because he finds mismatches that he likes or that his ever evolving post game just works better against the Nuggets. Maybe Bogdnaovic is the first player who thrives in the altitude of the Mile High City.

Maybe it’s just coincidence that he seems to handle the ball better and show off all of his shifty moves when the Jazz play Denver. Coincidence or not, it’s not bad to have a player that gives a divisional rival a reason to memorize your stats and has fits trying to figure out how to stop you.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.