Love him or hate him — you simply can’t deny Andrew Bogut’s impact on a basketball court for the Golden State Warriors. Surprisingly, he’s played in 41 out of the team’s 48 games so far this season and has averaged a career low 20.7 minutes per game. However, the 31-year-old is demonstrating what all the hype about him was when the team traded the popular guard, Monta Ellis for him despite his injury bug.
Bogut’s numbers won’t wow anyone by any means and it’s easy to overlook what he brings to Golden State, but when you look past the stats and lack of flashy dunks, you’ll see one of the more valuable assets to the reigning NBA Champions. Prior to Draymond Green’s emergence on the scene, Bogut was the second most important player on the team behind Stephen Curry. He still does fit that mold, though.
Bogut is an excellent passer. He doesn’t turn the ball over and get sloppy with it like DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol and sets up his wings with easy shots. When receiving passes from Bogut, Curry shoots 50.9 percent, Klay Thompson shoots 56.7 percent, Andre Iguodala shoots 64.3 percent, and Brandon Rush shoots 55.6 percent, per NBA.com. He sets hard screens and gives long-range snipers, Curry and Thompson the ability to play off the ball. Bogut gets his opposition out of the lane when he gets to the top of the arc, leaving more room for baseline cuts and easy shots near the basket. Obviously, Bogut lacks scoring in his offensive game but he passes the ball so well, that it can be seen as a major threat.
A team with Curry and Thompson and now Green (who can score), doesn’t need their center to drop 20 points per game. The Warriors are great whether Bogut scores two points or any other amount. His field goal percentage is 62 percent on the season on a little over four attempts per game. It’d be nice to see him take a few more shots, but he lacks confidence near the rim and hasn’t looked like the same player on that end of the ball ever since his gruesome elbow injury.
Defensively, we know what Bogut’s capable of. This year, he’s held opponents to 14.3 percent below their normal shooting percentage when they are six feet or closer to the basket. His opponents have shot a combined 59.7 percent entering the game, but are successful only 45.4 percent against the Aussie. Bogut ranks 4th in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes with 3.73 a game. When the backcourt loses track of their man, Bogut is there to clean the mess and throw an outlet pass to one of the guards in transition.
Why hasn’t Bogut been given more attention this season? It’s easy.
- Stephen Curry is the best player in the game.
- Draymond Green has emerged onto the scene as a top 10-15 player in the league.
- Klay Thompson is a top five two-guard.
- While Harrison Barnes hasn’t been great, all eyes are on him and his contract extension talks.
- Festus Ezeli was superb in Bogut’s absence.
- Steve Kerr missed the first half of the season.
With all these different names and story lines, it’s been simple to forget about the man in the middle that’s an essential part of the best team in the league. Fans were calling for Ezeli to be the Warriors new starting center. That might be the right call in the long term, but Bogut is still the better player right now. Bogut isn’t one of the best centers in the league, but the impact that he has should not be doubted.
Bogut is taken out when the Warriors want to use their Death Lineup, which consists of Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Barnes, and Green at the five. This has been the team’s most successful line-up and the one that ultimately won them the NBA title. That’s another reason why Bogut has been underappreciated.
That lineup is phenomenal and works on nearly every team — no one has been able to figure out how to stop it. But at times, you need a legitimate center in there and Bogut provides the team with that. Green doesn’t have the size, length, or shot blocking ability like Bogut. Ezeli doesn’t have the passing ability or basketball IQ like Bogut. Jason Thompson and Mo Speights aren’t even on the same tier. It’s critical that Bogut plays his 20 minutes per game because they are some of the most important in the frontcourt.
He’s not an All-Star, he’s not the most popular player on the team, and he’s certainly not the best. But Andrew Bogut remains a significant part of the team and continues to quietly play the best basketball of his Warriors career.