Keith Bogans: Role Star Hip Hop

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By The Numbers: 74 G, 23 GS, 19.0 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .380 FG%, .343 3P%, .647 FT%, .533 TS%, .528 eFG%

Advanced: 6.69 PER, 105 ORtg, 110 DRtg, 11.2 USG%, 1.3 ORB%, 8.8 DRB%, 5.0 TRB%, 8.1 AST%, 1.1 STL%, 0.2 BLK%, -2.7 estimated wins added

WATCH: Keith Bogans’s 2012-13 Brooklyn Nets Highlights

Look at that video above. That’s everything Keith Bogans did this season, wrapped up in one two-minute video. He hit open three-pointers, gave hard fouls to opponents to prevent easy baskets, and didn’t back down from anyone. That’s it. That was the Keith Bogans story.

He finished the season with the third-worst PER of all qualifying small forwards. So why did I spend most of the season clamoring for Bogans to play more minutes? Why did I go nuts convincing the Nets to play more smallball, starting Bogans & Joe Johnson on the wings, with Gerald Wallace at power forward? Why did I coin Bogans’s new nickname “Role Star Hip Hop?”

Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote a piece recently looking for the league’s “new age Shane Battiers” — players who didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but did the little things that made them valuable as fourth and fifth options. Most notably, those skills were: hit three-pointers and defend wing players.

Keith Bogans is a good-not-great wing defender, and a good-not-great shooter. He’s not a new-age Shane Battier to the extent that, say, Shane Battier is. But because of his solid ability to fill those two roles, his value to the Nets this year went beyond the basic numbers. Bogans was constantly in the background, lurking on the weak side, waiting for his shot. When he got it, he converted, hitting on 37.7% of his three-pointers before his slump to end the season. He struck fear by striking rarely but efficiently.

Two of the best Nets lineups this year were five-man tandems of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, and Kris Humphries/Gerald Wallace. There’s a reason that the most effective four-man tandem for the Nets this season (minimum 200 minutes) was Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Keith Bogans. (The second-most effective? Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Keith Bogans.)

Bogans operated as a defensive “sapper” — someone who took the abuse and assignment of guarding the best opposing perimeter player — and corner specialist, spacing the floor for the three offensive creators to operate.

As the season progressed, Bogans’s ability to fill this role waned, for one reason and one reason only: he stopped hitting threes. He shot 4-30 from three-point range in the final eight games of the season, and an abysmal 9.5% from deep in April. Bogans had a chance to redeem himself in the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls (his former team), but after 23 invisible minutes in the first two games, now-former Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo didn’t play him the rest of the series. Despite Bogans’s struggles to close the season, this was an egregious error by Carlesimo, who could have used Bogans’s ability to space the floor against a tightly packed Chicago defense.

Off the court, Bogans didn’t get into any trouble and acted as one of the few veterans who was willing to “get on (Deron’s) ass” about anything.

Bogans is a limited talent. If he’s your third option on offense, you’ve got a serious problem. But the NBA is full of players who want to be first options, who want to score above all else, who want the accolades that come with leading a team — even if that’s leading them into the ground. Most of those players aren’t good enough to do it. Bogans is a rare commodity: a player who knows what he’s best at and plays a role that maximizes his abilities, rather than maximizes his face time. When he’s with the team’s best players, he does just that. Role Star Hip Hop.

HIGH POINT: Hitting all four of his shots, including three three-pointers (all in the fourth quarter), in a 101-97 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in February. Bogans added four rebounds and an assist in that final frame.

LOW POINT: Pretty much every game from March 29th on — Bogans ended the season on a 4-30 skid that ended with him benched after Game 2 of Brooklyn’s first round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, his former team.

Keith Bogans: Role Star
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Full List:
Deron Williams | Joe Johnson | Gerald Wallace | Reggie Evans | Brook Lopez | Andray Blatche | C.J. Watson | Keith Bogans | Kris Humphries | MarShon Brooks | Mirza Teletovic | Tyshawn Taylor | Tornike Shengelia