There are these moments when Andrew Bogut provides the kind of defense that hasn’t been seen here in decades. Though Ekpe Udoh was an awesome defender, he just wasn’t quite the destroyer Bogut is. Last night against Phoenix, Bogut unleashed his typical confrontational blocks, swats that fly right back towards the faces of opponents.
His 11 boards, 5 assists and 3 blocks were helpful, but I didn’t need them to validate the Monta Ellis trade. Much as many fans here liked Ellis, he became a corrosive basketball force. You can’t win with defense like this; It just isn’t possible.
But the lack of Monta’s corrosive impact doesn’t equal Bogut’s salutary impact. I laughed at all of you who dared suggest that Bogut’s return would screw up team chemistry. Sneered, even. And yet, his return has coincided with a 6-game losing streak that only, mercifully ended against the horrid Phoenix Suns.
The problem isn’t Andrew Bogut’s play so much as it the incorporation of it. He’s been cleared for back-to-backs, but his preceding every-other-game presence made for an awkward arrangement. Not only that, but some of Bogut’s skills present challenges in of themselves.
With Festus Ezeli, the Warriors didn’t have to worry about running any offense through him. His slippery hands were frustrating, but it allowed GSW to focus on involving four players in the O. Now with Bogut, possessions are occasionally chucked down low, on the block, where the results have been mixed.
On defense, the Lee-Bogut dynamic is hardly ideal. Neither can hedge on high screens, which keeps dribblers comfortable, and makes the D predictable.
I know that Andrew Bogut hasn’t been a hedger in his career, but out of curiosity, I asked him if it was possible down the road.
Between Andrew Bogut and David Lee, the Warriors have two bigs who can’t do much defensively above the free throw line. At least Bogut protects the rim. Lee’s recently reverted back to old form, letting drivers fly by on layups.
I wish I could wax more positively after a victory, but GSW’s recent problems were on display against the Suns. Open threes were easy to come by for Phoenix, especially in the corner. The Suns just didn’t have a lot of interest in creating such looks.
That’s a harrowing defensive situation when the Spurs are upcoming on the schedule. The Warriors are struggling, in part due to schedule, in part due to luck, and in part due to a defense that’s so paint-packed as to allow more valuable shots from outside.
The situation might correct itself if Bogut gets healthy “on company time,” as Shaq would put it. For now, Golden State is at a loss when it comes to using the big, defensive force they’d always wanted.