In true filler form fashion, ESPN has compiled a list—everyone LOVES LISTS!—this offseason, ranking the top five players at each position, and even the best teams with an under-25 core. Luckily for those that have doled out the five dollars a year on ESPN Insider, all the rankings can be found here. And for those curious, the Golden State Warriors are number seven on Amin Elhassan's list of teams under-25 core, behind the Houston Rockets. Psh, about the only time we'll be behind those clowns, amirite?!
Bradford Doolittle ranked the top ten centers in the league and there were the usual assortment of names, with Dwight Howard coming in at the top and Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, and even Andre Drummond finding spots in the upper echelon. While I was surprised to see Andrew Bogut left off, I expected him to at least find spot his name somewhere in the next level of "potential guys" or "injury concerns but still solid" or "veterans". But nope. My eyes bled through the last paragraph as if I was reading a Twilight book. The "next five" included Anderson Varejao, Pau Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez and Deandre Jordan. Then he rounded out the rest with Andrew Bynum and Roy Hibbert.
I consider myself a person that is able to, as much as it seems impossible, understand the duality that bridges between the sane and the irrational fandom that defines our society. But the absence of Bogut on this list is a bit worrisome. To the Warriors? Probably not, but it makes sense as to how that can be perceived as one of the reasons the Dubs might not fare as well as people might hope. I expect about the same amount of wins as last season, which probably puts me on the lower spectrum of the Warriors "bloggers" anywhere. But to list 17 centers—there are only 30 teams—and not include Bogut on the list is troubling.
And let's face it, it's not as if the NBA is transitioning into a big man phase. The players are ranked on Doolittle's WARP (Wins Above Replacement Level) and, without reading into the formula, appears to look fondly on potential. Andre Drummond at 2, Demarcus Cousins at 3, JaVale McGee at 8 should tell you all you really need to know.
If the Warriors would have to choose between Bogut and all 17 of these centers, I'd suspect they would slot Bogut somewhere in the middle, especially given fit and injury history. Of course, a fully healthy Bogut would rank high on this list but I'd guess it would become tough for Bob Myers to play Chris Bosh (ranked tenth) alongside David Lee.
The list is situated in a vacuum, noting how each player does in accordance to the ranking of an average player, not whether Bogut's defensive style fits into a smaller team in Golden State. Though Myers might have knocked down some of the "Harrison Barnes at the 4 hype", here's thinking the best combination of players on the team will play and that *should* include Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Bogut and Barnes. Bogut is essentially the perfect backside center to fit into the team: a leader on defense unafraid to yell at wrongdoers and an adept understanding of spacing.
But the concerns run deeper than Bogut's ability to rebound from another injury-marred season. It's the depth that makes up the rest of the roster. Though some like to portray a "deep roster" as something that's not necessary to success, that probably only runs true for the truly elite. The Warriors are no lock to make the playoffs and the already-hurt Festus Ezeli combined with a rejuvenated (but for how long?) Jermaine O'Neal only complicates matter.
There's no need for statistics here. If Bogut goes down again, O'Neal shows his age—as most people do without the Phoenix Suns training staff—, there are serious issues with a Lee-at-the-five team. These are real issues and though Doolittle probably didn't mean to bring it up in his analysis, he indirectly hinted at a huge weak spot in the upcoming season.