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Hezonja, Šarić, and Bogdanović Have a Blast At NBA Media Day Monday

September 27, 2016

Bojan Bogdanović and Sean Marks will try to turn the Nets around this year.

Bojan Bogdanović and Sean Marks will try to turn the Nets around this year.


Photo: Brooklyn Nets


Croatia will have a record eight players in the NBA this season as Bojan Bogdanović, Mario Hezonja, Dario Šarić, Damjan Rudež, Justin Hamilton, Dragan Bender, Ivica Zubac and Andrew Bogut all look to make some noise in the 2016-17 NBA season. Dario Šarić, Dragan Bender, and Ivica Zubac will become the 18th, 19th and 20th ever Croatians to suit up for an NBA team. Only Canada, Serbia and France have had more players in the NBA.


Monday was media day as players returned from their short vacations and Olympics for Hezonja, Šarić and Bogdanović. Bojan is coming off a monster Olympics performance and the 27-year-old Croatian international will try and lead the Nets to the playoffs. Bookmakers and pundits have projected the Nets will be the worst team in the NBA while Bojan predicted a playoff appearance for the Brooklyn club.


“I think we can,’’ Bogdanović told the NY Post. “They can write what they want. … But we’re going to work hard to give it our best. When we get in a game, we have a chance to beat anybody. It’s going to be tough, but if we play like we practice, we have a chance.” Bojan’s 25.3 points per game in Rio were the best by any Olympian in 20 years, and his 19.2 player efficiency rating was fourth this summer behind only Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant, and Lithuania’s Mantas Kalnietis.


“It was a great experience to be in Rio. … and to see all the great athletes like [Usain] Bolt and Serena Williams, to be in the same building with all my fellow athletes for Croatia,” Bogdanovic said. “It was a great experience for all of us on the national team, because nobody expected us to even be in Rio.


“In the national team, many guys quit, did not want to play, and we had a really young team, and we changed the coach. Many things happened for us. Then we started to play much better, the coach give me a green light. That’s why I played good basketball this summer.”


Mario Hezonja rocks the new #8 with a clean cut

Mario Hezonja rocks the new #8 with a clean cut


Photo: Orlando Magic


Mario Hezonja returns to Orlando with a new haircut, a new coach, and a new number. The 21-year-old Croatian international will hope to see some playing time in his second year after struggling to get off the bench under former coach Scott Skiles. Super Mario has decided to switch from #23 to #8 this season.


Dario Šarić was all smiles at media day on Monday

Dario Šarić was all smiles at media day on Monday


Photo: 76ers


Dario Šarić had some fun at media day on Monday, showing off some of his dance moves ahead of the new season. The 12th pick in the 2014 NBA draft is ready to make the 76ers interesting again despite the fact that this is going to be a team that is going to lose quite a few games again. Hopefully, Dario will get some playing time on a relatively young roster under Sixers head coach Brett Brown.




Dragan Bender, far left, doesn't seem to be part of the Phoenix Suns family yet

Dragan Bender, far left, doesn’t seem to be part of the Phoenix Suns family yet


Photo: Phoenix Suns


18-year-old Dragan Bender is just what the Phoenix Suns need; tall and lanky shooter that can stretch the floor. The Suns are notably shallow at both forward spots as well as at center, leaving plenty of minutes to be won by the seven-footer. While NBA fans across the league will be waiting to see if they’re watching Porzingis 2.0 this season.


Ivica Zubac was taking questions at the Lakers facility on media day Monday

Ivica Zubac was taking questions at the Lakers facility on media day Monday


Photo: Lakers


Ivica Zubac was impressive for the Lakers in the summer league this season and will be looking to replicate this in his rookie season for the Los Angeles Lakers. The 19-year-old Croatian has already been spotted attending mass at St. Anthony’s Croatian church in Los Angeles as he looks to become a fan favorite in the Croatian community of Los Angeles. The Croatian 7-footer will most likely back up Russian center Timofey Mozgov this year.


Andrew Bogut will have something to prove for the Dallas Mavericks this season

Andrew Bogut will have something to prove for the Dallas Mavericks this season


Photo: Dallas Mavericks


NBA champion Andrew Bogut will continue his NBA career in Dallas after being traded by the Golden State Warriors this summer. The Warriors did not want to trade the 7-footer but needed to make cap room to sign Kevin Durant. In Dallas, Bogut will be asked to log more minutes on a nightly basis as this Dallas team doesn’t have the same flexibility as Golden State last season. When talking about how the Warriors will turn out this season, Bogut said he “was not very interested” in how they turn out.


Damjan Rudež will try to make the Orlando Magic final cut while Justin Hamilton will team up with Bojan Bogdanović and represent the Brooklyn Nets this season.




Denis Svirčić
Posted By: Denis Svirčić 14 comments

  1. jm says:

    its exciting to have so many guys back in the league. mabye more guys than ever now that i think about it.

    also hopefully some of these guys are in decent situations or atleast better tah the ywere

    bojan: better point guard in lin, and likely a transition to a more open flowing offense should help him get better shots

    hezonja: getting rid of skiles a huge plus, although the rotation with al lthe new acquisitions has become really crowded

    saric: hopefully he gets some burn on this terrible team. tough news is simmons showing up at the same time who has a similar skill set, just better

    bender: phoenix is a pretty bad organization. he might get a chance to play but will ikely be lost in the shufffle. doesn’t help they have another rookie to develop

    zubac: terrible team. bad organization. good city. maybe he contnues to surprise. who knows

  2. Maminjo says:

    Bender is the youngest player in the league, and still needs to add more muscle mass to his frame (which won’t happen during the season, as players do not do any weightlifting during the season).

    He’s very different from Porzingis as he is younger this year than Porzingis was last year, plus he is a lot weaker physically. Their games are very different. Bender has higher ‘potential’ but it will take longer for him to develop. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t expect him to do much this season.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You say that “Dario Šarić, Dragan Bender, and Ivica Zubac will become the 21st, 22nd and 23rd ever Croatians to suit up for an NBA team.” I would assume you include Bogut in that list (even though technically he is not considered Croatian) and maybe Hamilton (since you mentioned him in this article as well), but who are the others? My list of Croatians who have played in the NBA (regular season/playoffs only) are:
    1) Petrovic
    2) Vrankovic
    3) Kukoc
    4) Radia
    5) Tabak
    6) Giricek
    7) Planinic
    8) Bagaric
    9) Sundov
    10) Kasun
    11) Markota
    12) Ukic
    13) Bogdanovic
    14) Rudez
    15) Hezonja
    16) Dukan
    17) Saric
    18) Bender
    19) Zubac
    20) Bogut (?)
    21) Hamilton (?)
    22) ?
    23) ?

    I suppose the other 2 could be Komazec and Skelin, but neither of them actually played any official NBA games and should not be included. In my opinion, Saric, Bender and Zubac are the 17th, 18th and 19th Croatians to officially suit up for an NBA team.

  4. Maminjo says:

    George Mikan, John Havlicek, and Rudy Tomjanovich are Croats, so there are some more you can add to the list.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hamilton should not be on that wikipedia list. He hasn’t actually represented Croatia (only been named to a preliminary list but left) and grew up playing in the US. Otherwise you would need to add McHale, etc. to the list. (Hamilton is the only guy in the entire list that is listed as having the “ancestry” of the given country. Lots of people have ancestries from a different country)
    I would also assume the 20 Croatian players in the list at the top of the page already includes Saric, Bender and Zubac, as the detailed list below only has 17 for Croatia (including Hamilton). The correct number should be 16 now, and 19 once this season starts.

  6. Denis Svirčić Denis Svirčić says:


    You make a good point. For whatever reason, the list of 20 Croatians includes “Kosta Perović” “Predrag Savović” and “Peja Stojaković” all born in Croatia…

    You can make an argument for keeping Bogut off of the Croatian list, but that dude bleeds for Croatia, has 100% Croatian blood, owns a house in Croatia, pays Croatian taxes, and speaks the language.

    I tried interviewing McHale when he was coaching the Rockets. He told me after the match, then as I was waiting for him in the locker room, he closed the door right in front of me. A few weeks later he was canned. haha

    Post has been updated, thanks.

  7. Denis Svirčić Denis Svirčić says:

    Hamilton’s mom is 100% croatian. Dude played for Cibona and lived a few years in Zagreb. I caught up with him this last summer and he was excited to represent Croatia. However, once he signed with Brooklyn, they told him to stay home that he couldn’t play.

  8. Maminjo says:

    It’s crazy that we’re fourth on the all time list, yet we don’t seem to give a crap about basketball and haven’t done anything in the sport in over 20 years.

    That number is going to spike and we’ll be ahead of France and Serbia on that list in a few short years.

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