Nets’ Bogans Works From a Corner Office
BY ZACH SCHONBRUN, THE NEW YORK TIMES
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Keith Bogans likes to joke that he has lived in the corners beyond the 3-point arc his entire professional career. That is where he has made most of his success in 10 years in the N.B.A., he said, with something of a self-deprecating tone.
It is not the most glamorous spot on the court. Those who thrive there may be akin to baseball players who slap-hit singles or the linemen who do the long snaps in football. It did not take long for Bogans to summarize his nightly routine.
First, he runs to the corner. Then “I just stand and wait for my shot to come,” Bogans said.
It sounds simple enough but, over the course of his career, carving that niche has been a longer practice than he lets on. As a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, he was no corner artist. In fact, the early scouting report on him was the opposite.
“I used to hear that I couldn’t shoot,” Bogans, 32, said after the Netspracticed Thursday. “That’s something I definitely used to hear a lot.”
His evolution from a slashing, rim-running point guard to a reliable jump shooter off the Nets’ bench is another N.B.A. survivor story, a tale of a player adept enough to reform his game and adroit enough to notice the need to do so before it is too late.
This season, especially of late, Bogans’s value for the Nets has come from right in that cozy corner, running off screens and settling for a pass off the inevitable double team sprung at either Deron Williams or Joe Johnson.
“I’m licking my chops at that point,” Bogans said.
Bogans hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s win over New Orleans, the eighth time this season he has made three or more 3-pointers in a game, despite averaging only 18.1 minutes of play a game. Remarkably, 44 of Bogans’s 84 field goals this season have been from either the left or right corner of the 3-point arc.
He is shooting 39.3 percent from the corners, compared with just 33.9 percent from elsewhere beyond the 3-point line.
“I’m a role player,” Bogans said. “I’m not going to dominate the ball, plays aren’t going to be run for me. I’m going to get to the weak side. If I can stand and make the open shot, it’s hard to get me off the floor.”
It is a mentality that did not come naturally. In his first three seasons, most of Bogans’s field-goal attempts were from inside the paint. But in his fourth season, playing for the Orlando Magic, his fourth N.B.A. team, he began lingering after practice to shoot 3-pointers with Grant Hill, and watched Hill’s work ethic and repetitions in shooting, especially from the corners beyond the 3-point arc.
Two years after playing with Hill, in 2009, Bogans joined the San Antonio Spurs, who were looking for a spot-up shooter who could replace Bruce Bowen. Bogans attempted 111 shots from the corners that season, compared with 83 from elsewhere around the arc.
Under their former coach Avery Johnson, a onetime Spurs player, and now P. J. Carlesimo, a former Spurs assistant, the Nets have incorporated some of San Antonio’s offensive philosophy, particularly the notion of getting open looks from the corners.
“Percentage-wise it’s a red area, it’s a real good area to be shooting the ball from,” Carlesimo said. “And Bogs is really good out of the corner. That’s his hot spot. That’s where we like him to shoot it from.”
This season, only 10.3 percent of Bogans’s attempted shots have been inside the paint. He said he could not put a number on how many shots he takes from the corners every day at practice. But his success there has come from daily repetitions, with the assistant coach Doug Overton, putting up shots until he said his arms get tired.
“That’s where he makes his mark,” Williams said. “We know where Bogs is going to be, sitting in that corner, waiting.”
Joe Johnson (left heel) practiced Thursday but remains questionable to play Friday against Dallas. Johnson said he was confident that he would suit up. “It’s better,” Johnson said. “Not 100 percent, but definitely better.” Johnson has missed the past three games. ... MArShon Brooks missed practice with a sprained right wrist and is questionable for the game.