And in that one play, a split-second sequence in which the heels of his feet never even left the hardwood, Andrew Bogut epitomized everything the Golden State Warriors envisioned when they traded longtime fan favorite Monta Ellis.
This was Bogut's second game as a healthy center for the Dubs and he has made an enormous tangible impact. All hyperbole aside, Bogut represents everything Mike Montgomery's, Eric Musselman's, Don Nelson's, Keith Smart's, and last year's Warriors have been missing. Side note: Sort of ran out of room to name every other Warriors head coach there.
Brandan Wright—yes, the one that was also traded for fan favorite Jason Richardson—caught the pass on the low block, seemingly had an open lefty hook shot, especially for someone with a 7'4" wingspan. He turned around to flip it in and there he found a seven-foot Australian center who was winded from 25 minutes of play. WIthout moving, Bogut swatted the ball away into Jarrett Jack's hands and the game was essentially over. (well, then there was this)
Ha, that picture sure is funny. Must have just driven by a guy and got confused by the small amount of floor-space between him and the basket. ONLY LONG THREES, PLEASE!
Klay started the game 11-14 but missed his last five shots, including a couple free throws, but his route-running off the screens was reminiscent of Michael Crabtree. His ability to bury his hips and pivot through the screens, as many as three in one possession, then catching the ball and shooting in one motion is incomparable. Well, except for the guy on the bench in a suit with no ankles. Granted, Klay was only able to grab one rebound but without Curry's shooting and spacing, and Jack's propensity to ball-hog a bit when possessions bog down, they needed Klay to score, and score a lot.
We've only seen the starting lineup of Klay/Curry/Lee/Bogut/Barnes for a couple minutes, but the potential they have with their shooters and low-post passing might be unparalleled in the NBA.
1. This may seem a bit out of proportion but does any other team pass as well as the Golden State Warriors outside of the San Antonio Spurs? When Curry is in the game, the spacing on the floor essentially becomes a big Pinball game, where the ball just keeps hopping around from side to side until someone gets an open three, or open dunk. The Dubs started with a Bogut post-up (a little different result from the Festus Ezeli post-up) from one side and then a David Lee post-up from the other block a couple possessions later. The cross-court passing is something truly spectacular. Lee can just sense when shooters are opening up in the corner.
The options are endless when they don't have to run pindowns and stagger screens just to get someone open. One of the most underrated aspect of Bogut and Lee's game is their ability to pass, and to anticipate. This was encompassed in a play when Bogut caught the ball on the high post and waited for Lee to cut through, stuck his backside out to act as a screen (slightly illegal), caused his defender to lose a step, then led Lee with a pass to the basket.
Given that Bogut is still a little rusty, this new offense may take a while to come to fruition but once it does, this will be a brand new basketball team. Getting the ball inside/high post to Bogut opens up a whole different realm of the playbook. One that keeps defenders on its heels all game long.
2. But enough about Bogut's offense and it's impact on the offensive end. How about the defense? Besides the ability to block and rotate, we are beginning to see how the defense changes with Bogut in the game. He never hedges on the pick-and-roll, leaving open jumpers for the guards but that hasn't hurt them much yet, and is able to force big men to think twice before shooting. Brandan Wright was unable to get his shot off several times and passed the ball back out. Unlike the beginning of the season, Bogut is much jumpier on jump shots, trying to block every single one. While that's not usually advisable, it probably means his ankle is much closer to 100 percent than it was early in the season. One ankle looking good, one more to go.
3. David Lee's ability to anticipate his own blocked shots is fascinating. It seems like he knows he will get blocked so he barely jumps, then gathers himself quicker than the already-leaping center, grabs the ball back, and lays it back in one motion. I'm not sure whether he plans to do this, but it's rather effective when he goes up against the taller players in the post.
Also, did you know Lee had 20 boards? Yeah, me neither.
4. The Harrison Barnes Watch:
This was one of the better, if not the best, most complete game that Barnes has played all season. He remained aggressive throughout the game and never shied away from attacking the basket. I keep writing about Barnes' diversifying post game in the hopes he'd keep going to it and he did so today—scoring on several hard takes in the first half. While he's tentative on the perimeter, choosing to dribble aimlessly and passing the ball away, he is the opposite on the wings and low block. Man is just tough to guard when he can finish the way he does while still able to hit that fadeaway.
5. Team chemistry is an extremely overrated phrase when it comes to the product of a team winning. Execution, game-planning, coaching, hard work, and hustle are all more significant factors of the game. But it's hard to argue against the unadulterated love-fest between the players and the way they feed off that energy after a made shot. Made shot. Not a Barnes-over-Pekovic dunk or a Curry and-one three. But a simple made three from the corner elicits absurd celebrations reserved for SportsCenter Top 10 plays.
Chris Webber on the TNT broadcast paraphrased: I couldn't see that play. It's a show over here every time a shot goes in.
From the Curry 1-2-3 finger count celebration after the Klay and-one three to the Lee shove of Richard Jefferson reverse dunk(!!!!!) to Bazmore's now famous three-point celebrations, these Warriors are just plain fun to watch. They remind us a little bit of the San Francisco Giants' various celebrations after a base hit.
Let's hope the end-season result is the same.