To reminisce about Andrew Bogut's tenure so far as a Golden State Warrior is as frustrating and mystifyingly scintillating as anything the fans have watched in the past decade.
We will remember Andrew Bogut's 2012-13 season not as one where he labored through numerous injuries in a constant battle to get back on the court, but as one where fans drooled over the potential of his defensive presence. It's funny how a small 12-game postseason sample shifts the overall narrative of a single player and team.
The underlying debate of the season - not so much the elephant, as the sprained ankle, in the room - was Bogut's influence on not only the offense and defense, but the winning percentage. Though many of us might not want to admit it now, in hindsight, but there were many naysayers that believed a lineup featuring a quicker Festus Ezeli or Carl Landry would serve the Warriors better than a plodding, seemingly unskilled on the offensive end, big man.
There wasn't much statistical difference between his on/off statistics but that was more due to his inconsistent play due to his ankle injury than what he can actually bring to the court. But don't take my word for it because everything we thought he could become for the Warriors, it came to fruition against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs in the postseason.
Our perceptions remain skewed on a recency bias that sees us loving Bogut's defense one game in a win, and drastically different in another when it's abundantly clear the ankle is bothering him and the fouls and passive offensive play come quickly. Bogut took time off after admitting he had tried to come back too early, made a surprise return in February, only to admit he wasn't 100 percent and subsequently refused to bring up the subject or make excuses until....ever.
It was evident in his shooting numbers as he shot 45.1 percent from the field, unable to make or take a simple hook shot when the circumstances called for it. While Bogut is an excellent and underrated passer, it's less effective when opposing teams aren't even bothering to double-team the post. Bogut shot over 51 percent from the field form 2005-2010, with most of his shots coming inside the paint.
Whoa. Didn't see that coming.
Looked 110 percent there.
Ultimately, how Bogut's season unraveled is conducive to how we choose to view him. For his detractors, they'll point to his injury history and height, not a good combination for a big man looking to stay healthy in his last contracted season. And for his supporters, they'll point to his defense on the best power forward and one of the best centers of all time (Tim Duncan) and his projected ability to finish at the rim when healthy, as vital assets to the 2013-14 team.
Most notable aspect of what Warriors trying to do is that they're shopping Bogut, who'll be due an explanation if none of this comes to pass— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 4, 2013
I'm not sure what to make of this but a tough person and player that we know Bogut is—as much knowing as we can without actually speaking to him on a personal basis—this could go two ways. The first scenario, where he understands the business perspective of basketball and lets this under the bridge. The second, where Bogut becomes offended and subsequently plays with a chip on his shoulder all season, remaning healthy and playing at a high level; ultimately receives a long-term deal and leaves GSW. Either way, there's no reason Bogut would play worse under any circumstance and if you worst-case scenario is that he plays so well, he's out of your price range, that's as strong as an Arya Stark arrow.
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From the moment that Joe Lacob OK'd a deal to trade fan favorite Monta Ellis, untrack a string of tanking, draft picks and moves with a single Bogut injury, it's been fascinating to document how we, as bloggers, writers and fans have witnessed this confounding experiment.
It started with how we viewed the way the Warriors went about getting to the number seven selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, selecting Harrison Barnes after a documented tank job and oddly informal coin toss to decide the probabilities in the Draft Lottery.
Many lamented the manner in which management went about acquiring the result they did—though I didn't hear complaints when Barnes was the second or third-best player in the Spurs' series. Others applauded the brash tactics of Bob Myers as a means to an end.
Before the start of the regular season, we started to hear rumors about the true nature of Bogut's injury, his micro-fracture surgery, but nevertheless, he was able to make the start on Opening Night, with the caveat that he would not play on back-to-back. And that was just the beginning.
Bogut's play this season revealed an underlying aspect the Warriors have been missing the past few
decades seasons; the athletic ability to switch and defend. When David Lee sat out with an injury, Draymond Green, Thompson and Barnes were able to play aggressive defense without worrying about the back end. On many occasions, the opposing player got by the initial wave of defense, only to get stonewalled and had to kick it back out to a recovering perimeter defense.
If we think of Bogut's up, down, and back up season as a showcase for next, there are many reasons to start printing out those playoff tickets again. If this is the worst to come in Bogut's career as a Warrior so far—and there's plenty reason to think the worst has passed—the good will surely overshadow the struggles that's come with an Australian hook shot. Bogut's play will forever be linked with the fading shadow of Monta Ellis' phantom defense, but if we're as quick to forgive Bogut's balky ankles and back when he single-handedly changes other team's offensive philosophies, his season went quite swimmingly.
Statistical support for this piece provided by NBA.com, unless stated otherwise.