Andrew Bogut is a very honest man. If I had to pick one person to write a feature on (hint hint, wink wink) or just to interview after a close win or controversial loss, it'd be Bogut. Granted, I've never actually asked the guy a question. It's usually Mark Jackson, Stephen Curry and David Lee's responsibility to take care of media interviews. But Bogut, unlike the rest of the team's, no offense here, boring media personality, usually has something interesting to say. Granted, Curry will answer Xs-and-Os type of questions and Lee will go #FullSquad at times, but the emotions of the team runs through the big man in the middle.
So watching him leave the media room early after the Denver Nuggets loss didn't bother me at all. I'm sure he wanted to play, and after watching J.J. Hickson grab 24 rebounds, including the game-clinching one, can you blame a dude who doesn't want to answer questions about something he can't control?
And when Anthony Davis took over the game in the first half, scoring 21 points, there was some trepidation as to whether Jackson would turn back to Bogut in the middle or continue running a small lineup with Lee at center to combat pick-and-rolls. Thankfully, and much to the happiness of every single Warriors "analyst", Bogut played much of the fourth quarter and dominated in the paint.
It showed on two specific plays:
1. Tyreke Evans finished a eurostep around Bogut early in the first half. When he tried the same midway through the fourth? Bogut knew he was going left after juking to the right and forced Evans to toss up a no-look wild miss.
2. Bogut's weakside defense is among the best in the league in the sense of timing and force. Not only does he wait until the last possible moment to commit but he leaves no time for the shooter to make a play - unless said shooter is Kevin Durant, Chris Paul or LeBron James. He did the same to Al-Farouq Aminu as Aminu raced down the left block thinking he had an open shot. He not only blocked it but kept it inbounds to retain possession.
Voter fatigue, amirite? Curry had an excellent game passing, rebounding and scoring. Even though he reverted back to his struggling ways from distance, he made multiple slashes to the rim in the third quarter stretch that put the Warriors up by 12.
But Bogut's defense is so essential that even the layman can see the team fall apart the literal second he parks his shorts on the bench. It's impressive of Bogut, and speaks to the importance of Jermaine O'Neal and Festus Ezeli. It's not Marreese Speights fault he was pushed into this role.
1. In keeping with the Curry theme, he had eight assists to zero turnovers. Despite shooting at an above-average, yet still underwhelming, at least for him, rate, he's been special in just about every other way. The Warriors defense is shot without Bogut the same way its offense is punchless without Curry.
2. Andre Iguodala played with Jordan Crawford and the bench unit in the second half, essentially functioning as the backup point guard. Crawford excelled shooting, yet again, and showed off some of the isolation moves and tough shot-making ability he creates. It's probably not sustainable but it'll be fun to watch, Curry still played 38 minutes tonight but as Crawford and maybe MarShon Brooks becomes acclimated to the offense, it should go down.
3. Jackson loves the all-bench, no-defense, all-iso lineups spanning the first quarter into the second. If that's the case, why not just play Brooks instead of Kent Bazemore? At least Brooks can create his own shot, despite never actually succeeding on a good team. It can't get any worse than the inconsistent ball-handling that we're subjected to game in and game out. If you're going to go all-out isolation, go ALL-OUT ISOLATION. Or not, whatever.
4. Anthony Davis is a beast. So often, we're enamored with finding the diamond in the rough, priding ourselves on finding our inner scout and identifying players no other team or executive knew about. I'm not immune to this line of thinking, as I was pushing the idea of Draymond Green as a second-round pick and elated to find out his defense was especially crucial to this team. But we never care about top picks, because well, they're supposed to be this good. Unfortunately, that's often not the case. There are Anthony Bennetts and Andrea Bargnanis roaming the world but when an Anthony Davis comes around, we expect him to be this great the moment he picks up that cap because that was part of the hype and expectation package.
Well, to say Davis has put it together (as much as a 21-year old can) is an understatement. Blessed with a long reach, Davis isn't just a raw young tall dude that can block shots. He has excellent touch from the perimeter and blinding quickness and, yep, better ball-handling ability than the Warriors bench. One of the rising stars in the NBA, he's one of the few players to exceed our always absurdly high expectations.
5. Harrison Barnes, le sigh.
6. The Warriors head home to play the Indiana Pacers on national TV. You think Bogut will play in the fourth quarter against Roy HIbbert?