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The Warriors need more than just joy and anger — Andrew Bogut may be the one who can provide it.

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The Warriors do lack plenty of joy and anger nowadays, but they may need something else to complement those. The signing of Andrew Bogut could be the spark they’ll need to finish strong.

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Andrew Bogut Press Conference Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

These past couple of days have been perhaps one of the toughest periods for Warriors fans to swallow during their five-year dynastic run. The Warriors endured a beating of epic proportions from the Boston Celtics, who gave them their worst defeat at Oracle Arena during the Steve Kerr era. It was a loss where the Warriors seemed lethargic out of the gate, going through the motions like office employees who couldn’t wait to clock out at 5 pm sharp.

To make matters somewhat worse, Kevin Durant seemed to contradict his head coach’s assertion that the team needed to play with more passion and anger — basically sending a message to his squad that they needed to play games like they genuinely wanted to win them. Kerr does have a point, because these Warriors don’t look like they want to win any more regular season games and would rather fast forward their way to another inevitable playoff run.

Upon hearing of his coach’s remark, Durant — sarcastically or not (you be the judge) — brushed away that notion.

“I thought we moved off joy. Now anger? I disagree with that one,” said Durant.

You can interpret that statement however you want — most people, including members of the media, already have. At this point, constant speculation and armchair psychoanalyses of Durant’s off-court demeanor and comments have already reached a point where they become rather pointless endeavors.

What is certain, however, is the apparent lack of joy — and also the apparent lack of intensity, passion, and “anger” — that ails this team. In a sense, what Durant said had an inkling of truth sprinkled in it.

I thought we moved off joy.

I’m pretty sure that many Warriors fans out there are wondering the same thing. That same joy — often so explicitly present in these Warriors — is notably absent. In its place is somewhat of a robotic, almost emotionless brand of basketball, where players commit one basketball transgression after another and just seem to shrug it off, without any hint of remorse.

Even off made baskets, there is no sense of accomplishment, no urgency to hunt for another basket that will create a continuous chain of points, eventually turning into one of those vintage Warrior runs that have often broken the wills of opponents. This is also where the lack of anger comes in — the Warriors just don’t seem to care if they fall behind big. They shoot themselves in the foot and just watch themselves slowly bleed to death.

Ethan Strauss of The Athletic recently argued that joy and anger don’t need to be mutually exclusive — that the Warriors will need to have both in order to come out of this season with another championship trophy in their hands. While I most certainly agree with that assessment, I do think that the Warriors will need another element that will complement both joy and anger — and that element is, quite simply, edge.

These Warriors are also lacking that edge — some people would call it arrogance — that they have also explicitly expressed as freely and openly as they have with joy. It often comes in the form of Stephen Curry unleashing one of his patented shimmies after hitting his -nth three-point shot in a row; sometimes, it comes in the form of Draymond Green shamelessly flexing his biceps after getting fouled while making a shot, or him staring down someone he just blocked the living daylights out of.

Occasionally, edge doesn’t materialize in a readily outward or expressive manner. It can come in the form of Klay Thompson hitting a series of jumpers or him locking down the opposing team’s best perimeter player. It can come in the form of Durant being locked in during isolation possessions, hitting mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper over several defenders to the point that they question their ability to defend at the highest level.

That kind of edge just hasn’t been there — and every game that they start out lifelessly and in a lethargic manner, it’s all the more obvious that they need a jolt of electricity, an injection of adrenaline that would be enough for them to go into the playoffs with plenty of momentum.

Enter Andrew Bogut.

The Australian center was recently given leave to sign a minimum contract with the Warriors, thereby making his return to the franchise where he played a big part in its renaissance. Much is made of the culture change Mark Jackson instilled when he was given the head coaching job back in 2011 — but it can be argued that Bogut himself had as much of an impact in that change as Jackson had, especially on the defensive end. Green, who could be considered the Michael Corleone to Bogut’s Vito Corleone in terms of defensive development, gave his former mentor plenty of credit in teaching him all he needed to know about being a great defender.

“I wouldn’t be half the defender I am without Andrew Bogut,” said Green during an interview with Donovan Mitchell just before Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals. “He taught me so much about defense that I owe all my success to him defensively.”

That praise from Green isn’t without merit. Out of all the centers the Warriors have had during their five-year run, Bogut has been the best defensively, especially in terms of rim protection. With him on the floor, the Warriors’ perimeter defenders could afford being occasionally blown by, because they knew that Bogut was right behind them, ready to send away bold attempts at finishing at the rim.

Bogut’s versatility as a center is often understated – he may have made his chops as the anchor of the Warriors’ defense during their 2015 title run and their record-breaking 2016 regular season, but he was also arguably the best passing big man in Warriors history.

Bogut’s impact on the team was so valued by many that when he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in order to create cap space for the signing of Durant, many feared that the Warriors would regress defensively. While those fears were proven to be unfounded — at least initially — it still doesn’t diminish what Bogut meant to the team and its fans during their rise toward elite status.

With all that said, let me hit all of you with a dose of reality — the 2019 Bogut who will be arriving next week to join the Warriors will most probably not be the same Bogut as shown in the clips above.

Sure, he has shown signs of rejuvenation after winning the Australian NBL’s MVP and DPOY awards, averaging 11.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.7 blocks. Being in a league whose schedule is spread out and is relatively more relaxing compared to the NBA has also helped him become healthy and much more fit.

But he will find it difficult to find consistent minutes on the floor with the Warriors. At best, he will have the kind of minutes that JaVale McGee had in his role as a spark plug off the bench, providing bursts of energy and holding the fort during those otherwise vulnerable periods when stars are on the bench. At worst, he will be the fourth-stringer in a four-center rotation, behind DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, and Jordan Bell, and might be stuck on the bench as a cheerleader and motivator.

But even if that were to be the case, it’s still a win-win situation for the Warriors. Bogut was once a respected and admired presence in the Warriors’ locker room, and he has maintained good relationships with Curry, Thompson, and Green. He will be welcomed back with open arms by old friends — a feeling that most of us can relate to, when we ourselves are overjoyed and thrilled when catching up with friends who we haven’t seen in a long while.

“For me, it’s an absolute honor to go and sign there and not play a minute, anything more than that is a bonus. ... I appreciate the opportunity and if it’s waving a towel for 20 games and just being a good teammate, I’m happy to do it,” said Bogut during an interview conducted in Australia.

He will have a voice in the locker room, and he will have input for the coaching staff that will not fall on deaf ears. He will be visible on the bench, celebrating all those moments of happiness and providing sound advice and words of encouragement during sullen and down periods.

And maybe, just maybe, he will be inserted into a game — and just like the old days, he will swat away a drive or make a ridiculous pass to Curry or a cutting Thompson, jogging the fans’ memories and giving them something new to cheer about.

Either way, Bogut may very well be the edge the Warriors will need to lift themselves out of the slog they’ve been going through. I may very well be overstating his possible impact, but at this point, anything fresh and new — even if it comes in a package of nostalgia and antiquity — will have to do.