Back in 2005, I remember seeing Andrew Bogut play in the NCAA tournament with Utah and looking like a dominant big man. He scored with ease on the interior, rebounded the ball with aggression, fed his open teammates and was terror on defense. Several projected that he would be a good NBA center but there were still concerns. Indeed, this was the same university that had sent some stud college big men to the pros and then watched them basically become marginal NBA bigs.
And so, there was no escaping it: would Andrew Bogut be the second coming of either Michael Doleac or Keith Van Horn?
As he joined the NBA and displayed his array of skills, we realized we was neither.
Although he hasn’t been the dominant low post force he was in the NCAA with the Milwaukee Bucks, Bogut’s game has translated nicely to the big leagues. With the NBA now starving for decent centers to anchor the interior of a defense, the former Utes player offers an intriguing set of skills that may be hard for most teams to pass up.
The former Bucks center has shown throughout his career that he can fight for position and gather rebounds as well as cover up for his teammates by coming out to help and even swatting some shots away to deter opponents from coming inside the paint. He is a good passer from the post and also has the ability to score but has been somewhat less efficient on this front ever since his elbow injury.
Nonetheless, when the Golden State Warriors sent away Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to acquire the veteran big man — Stephen Jackson was also included in the trade but was then swapped for Richard Jefferson at the trade deadline — they did so thinking that they were getting a franchise-type center to help the team rebuild to some degree without necessarily bottoming out. Bogut is currently injured, but next season the Dubs will have a core of Stephen Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Klay Thompson is currently coming into his own and the front office seems to be interested in bringing Brandon Rush back. It remains to be seen whether Richard Jefferson will be part of the future but there is within that group the potential for a good team.
But what should we expect from Andrew Bogut though? To answer that question, I went directly to Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksbetball, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate blog for the Milwaukee Bucks:
“Before his injury, Bogut was probably the league’s second best center. He had blossomed into a truly complete defender who could take charges and block shots with equal effectiveness. He was always barking out orders as the team’s back line defender, directing traffic while he plugged any leaks that sprung from the perimeter defenders. He’s still nearly as good of a defender now as he was then. He isn’t instantly going to fix a team’s defense by himself, but he can make as big of an impact to a team’s defense as any defender outside of Dwight Howard in the league.
Offensively, he’s really struggled since his elbow injury. He used to have uncanny touch from 3-9 feet. That’s kind of fallen off, which is a problem because he doesn’t get a ton of looks in close. He’s attempting just four shots per game at the rim. He isn’t super quick, so he has trouble making a move to get by a guy so he can finish. Be prepared to watch awkward hook shots, floaters and fadeaways. He used to make these, lately not so much. I’m not sure if he just needs more time to get those back or what. When he was at his best, he could use either his right or left hand very effectively for his flip shots. He’s relied more on his left since his injury even though he’s right handed.
Surround him with really good players and he can be a great fit. Surround him with average players and you have an average team. Surround him with poor players and you probably have a team that’s only slightly below average.”
The trick now is for the organization to surround Bogut with some great players going forward. David Lee will greatly benefit from the presence of the big man defensively and both players should be able to do a number on opponents on the boards.
Offensively, Bogut will have some ways to go to regain his confidence and become a good post up player. According to MySynergySports, the big man was shooting 36.2 percent from the floor in post up situations before his injury this season; a figure that clearly needs to improve.
With that said, the outlook for this season as well as for next one sure looks different. The Dubs may in fact morph into a half court team built on timing and execution but that gets out in transition faster than most once they get stops thanks in large part to their new acquisition.
Many might argue that the Dubs gave up too much for Australian big man, but as Warriors fans themselves are well aware, it’s awfully tough to find a good solid NBA caliber center…
And they have him now.
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