The Rockets won and Andrew Bogut was angrily blunt. Last night reminded me of 10 days before, when Bogut sat at his corner locker, before a game against the Suns. He was affable, funny, engaging. It was pre-Warriors nosedive, so the Oracle atmosphere was suffuse with giddy. Then, when asked about what he could bring to the team, Bogut plainly pointed out that he could, “Catch a little bit better than Fez (Festus Ezeli), pass a little bit better than Fez, work a little bit better than Fez as another option.”

He just said it so casually that the surprise sank in when I listened to the recorded product. The statements were true, but not in keeping with how NBA players talk about teammates. The answers are usually more politically correct, especially when pertaining to “me vs. him” comparisons. That’s the athletic social norm that Andrew Bogut stands in stark contrast to.

Since that Suns victory, we’ve been witness to a 5-game Golden State swoon, one that nearly coincides with the Aussie’s return. I’m not blaming Andrew Bogut for the slump, as I believe this losing streak is more a function of the opposition finally hitting their threes than anything Bogut’s doing wrong.

The Rockets game was of a different pattern, though. Houston shot a poor percentage from deep, and Golden State still got smoked. They lost despite beating their opponent in free throws drawn. They lost despite losing the turnover and rebounding battles by a blip.

The issue was in the paint, where the Rockets overwhelmed a slow, disorganized Warriors defense. Some of the baskets came off of transition and some of them came from awful halfcourt lapses.

I’ve yet to review the game footage, but Bogut’s D did not strike me as particularly egregious (David Lee was another story). My main Bogut criticism was on offense, where he appeared a bit shy to shoot when close to the rim.

Andrew Bogut wasn’t shy to blame his teammates for what happened in this game, however:

“I think at the end of the day, you’ve got to stop your man. We have a great shell team defense. But I think at the end of the day, it’s you one-on-one in a battle with the guy you’re guarding, you know?”

“I mean, I can only do what I can do out there, that’s rebound, set screens, if guys are open, get them the ball, be a team guy. We’ve got great shooters on this team. But you’re going to have to watch the tape to know where our problems are.”

“Like I said earlier, our defense one-on-one is horrendous, 1 through 5, not just 1 or 2 guys. 1 through 5. We get beat it’s like, ‘Oh help, someone help me'”

The big man went on to describe GSW’s defense with profanity (*Gasps at the thought of profanity* *Slumps onto the fluffiest fainting couch*).

To be fair to Andrew Bogut’s assessment, defensive possessions like this happened:

So he’s speaking the truth. He’s just doing so in an impolitic way at an impolitic time.

The more NBA socially normative gesture is to blame oneself, or to rely on vague platitudes of, “We gotta get better,” or “We gotta get on the same page.” Andrew Bogut is cutting with his specificity.

I canvassed Australians on Twitter, asking these folks to help me stereotype them. There was widespread agreement that “friendly and charming, but also harshly blunt,” had a ring of truth when it came to describing the Aussie way. Andrew Bogut’s gruff may merely be indicative of a cultural difference.

Whatever the case, I’ve seen a mostly positive reaction to Tuesday night’s negative pronouncements. Though some fans blame Bogut for bringing famine and pestilence, many others appreciate the honesty. This organization has grown a reputation for sugar coating failure; Andrew Bogut conveys failure starkly, and there are legion Warriors supporters who love pain framed accurately.

Andrew Bogut rarely turns the negative public gaze on himself, though, and you have to wonder how his teammates feel about this. They were winning without him. Now, they’re losing with him and he’s calling them out.

The process of incorporating Bogut has been rocky, not just on the court. GSW’s biggest critic is also their newest addition. Maybe this tough talk is just what this team needs. Maybe the timing will make this team less inclined to accept it.

7 Responses

  1. Adam CM

    When I saw this blurb from True Hoop, I immediately wanted to look up Bogut’s birthdate. November 28. Sagittarius. Sagittarius’ are known for being ruthlessly blunt. (I am one myself.)

  2. Wil

    One more thing, I see too many guys concentrating on the man with the ball and they attempt to help, but by the time they already have lost their own man, and that’s how the opposite team exploits the Warrior’s defense. Stop helping and converging on one man and concentrate on your own man (everybody converges on the paint and leave others wide open). Everybody be responsible for your own man, unless is Lebron.

  3. Wil

    Bogut is a leader and a vocal one, I think Bogut backs up every word he says, and I’m glad somebody finally spoke up without sugar coating everything, you said it, sugarcoating failure, he is completely correct and you cannot fix a problem without properly diagnosing and identifying the problem, “A problem well defined is halfway solved”, so I think we are on our way. Thompson looks lost out there, the whole team’s demeanor was lacksadaical and disheartening. It looked like they didn’t show up, like they weren’t ready to play, this team needs some character and a lil tough love, as might as well let Bogut do his thing, one thing for sure and mark my words, the Warriors are going to get better from here on out, you are going to ask, are these really the Warriors? Look out! No need to panick is right by Coach Jack, it takes time for a team to gell to a new big piece of the puzzle, and by that time Bogut will be healthier, so look out. We starting the second half with a bang. Good job Bogut.

  4. ronnie

    The defence was fine when Bogut was in suit. His presence is actually slowing the team down and disrupting the teams chemistry. No wonder the bucks got rid of him.

  5. Brian F.

    I don’t think Andrew Bogut left himself out of the criticism. He said “Like I said earlier, our defense one-on-one is horrendous, 1 through 5, not just 1 or 2 guys.” 1 through 5 includes the center position…

  6. Inmypjs

    Who’s to blame on that video? I think the onus of that defensive lapse was on Landry. He saw that Lee’s man was cutting to the basket along the baseline. Landry stayed with his man instead of leaving him for Lee to check. Lee thought Landry will stop the man going to the basket but he got through so Lee was too late to stop the dunk. I would have taken Landry out immediately and put in Ezeli.

  7. James V.

    Bogut’s right and it doesn’t really matter if it ruffles anyone’s feathers. Their team D and one-on-one D has not been good, not nearly as good as it was earlier in the season.

    I don’t know that Bogut is exactly excusing himself from any blame, though. He did say “1 through 5,” but it seems his reputation as a solid defender is leading to others letting up in bad ways. Just because a 5 may be a good defender doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to save you every time you blow an assignment or let your guy beat you. That’s also a good way to get your 5 in foul trouble.

    There are some chemistry issues they’ve all got to work through right now but defensively, Lee is still Lee and both he and Curry seem to be going through the motions. It’s hard to keep up the level of defensive intensity they had earlier in the year but the whole team is making mistakes and who knows what Mark Jackson is trying to do about it?

    Whatever the case, I’d rather have someone tell it like it is instead of going back to the same old sports cliches time and again.