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‘I have to stay confident’: Bojan Bogdanovic hoping to break out of slump for Utah Jazz against Washington Wizards

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (11) fouls Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) at the hoop as the Utah Jazz and the Boston Celtics play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (11) fouls Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) at the hoop as the Jazz and the Celtics play at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Bojan Bogdanovic has been one of the Utah Jazz’s most important players this season, averaging 20.3 points to help ease some of the heavy offensive burden on Donovan Mitchell.

But, coinciding with the Jazz’s four-game losing streak coming out of the All-Star break, Bogdanovic has struggled, as he’s made just 11 of his 41 shots and averaged just 11.5 points per game.

Add that to the fact that he’s not exactly a defensive stopper, and it’s been a tough stretch for Utah’s primary free agent acquisition last summer.

The Croatian’s number of shot attempts per game are also down this month compared to earlier in the season, although he said after shootaround Friday in preparation for the Jazz’s game against the Washington Wizards that he doesn’t feel as though that’s contributing to his struggles.

“It’s not that I’m not getting the ball,” he said. “I’m shooting pretty bad, especially from the 3, so I have to stay confident.”

To help cure that, he said he wants to focus Friday night on trying to get an easy basket at the rim early in hopes that will help him get in a better rhythm. A potentially hopeful sign for him and Utah is that he feels as though he has generally played better after All-Star breaks throughout his career.

“I hope that the last game was the last game that I played the way I’ve been playing,” he said. “From tonight, I’m going to be the old Bojan from before All-Star break.”

Friday’s matchup will give Bogdanovic the chance to face a Wizards team he played for in the 2016-2017 season. Washington likes to run, and Bogdanovic is especially aware of what Wizards star Bradley Beal is capable of.

“He’s a great guy, pretty humble, great teammate,” Bogdanovic said of Beal. “It’s going to be a tough challenge for us.”