Popovich a Big Fan of Kings Rookie: ‘He Really Understands…'

SACRAMENTO -- The San Antonio Spurs are a model professional franchise. For nearly four decades, they have set the NBA standard of excellence and they are well on their way to another season of playoff basketball.

The Sacramento Kings would love to emulate the San Antonio's run of success. They have gone as far as to bring in former Spurs players Garrett Temple and George Hill to help build a new foundation.

While the core of San Antonio's dynasty began with top picks David Robinson and Tim Duncan, the Spurs have mined the world for talent and more often than not, come up with diamonds.

Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen and Kawhi Leonard are only a few of the pieces the Spurs have discovered as they prolonged their stretch of greatness. They've drafted star level players, but they've also created them with a system of stability and development.

Listening to head coach Gregg Popovich in pregame of the Kings/Spurs matchup Monday evening, the future Hall of Fame coach spoke glowingly of one of Sacramento's young players. It was almost as if he was reciting a scouting pre-draft scouting report.

"He's a pretty good enough athlete, but he's a fantastic basketball player," Popovich said of Kings rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic. "He really understands innately how to play the game. He's just built for it mentally, whether it's shooting the ball or understanding spatial arrangements on the court, who he's playing with, what shot's good, what shot's not, how to play with his teammates. He's really got a high basketball IQ. On top of that, he's got good skills. He handles the ball, he passes, he shoots. He doesn't have any fear, he's not intimidated by the NBA and he comes right in and plays."

While Popovich didn't come out and say it, Bogdanovic would fit perfectly on his club. Fortunately for the Kings, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

"It's an amazing thing," Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California Monday evening. "That's such a great coach to have such comments for me as a rookie coming over to the NBA. I'm trying to work every single day to be better and to play basketball the right way. That's the part I think he likes."

After acquiring his rights on draft night 2016, the Kings signed the 25-year-old Serbian to a three-year, $27 million deal during the offseason. Once his deal expires, he still falls under restricted free agent status, allowing the Kings to match offers for the talented young wing.

In their first matchup this season against San Antonio on Dec. 23, Bogdanovic dropped in 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting for the Kings. Monday night at Golden 1 Center, he led the bench unit, finishing the night with 16 points five rebounds and five assists in the Sacramento's 107-100 loss.

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