Entering the season, Andrew Bogut was expected to be a key figure in the Golden State Warriors rotation. With him in the middle, the Warriors would have had a dominant shot blocker, low-post defender and rebounder– areas the team was weak in. Pairing the center with David Lee would form one of the league’s best big-man tandem.
But 58 games into the season, Bogut has only played in 12 contests, averaging just 22.5 minutes. After making progress on his ankle injury, Bogut recently received clearance to participate in back-to-backs. Despite playing well on the second night of a back-to-back for the first time in mid-February, the former No. 1 overall pick suffered another setback.
Prior to the game against the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 22, Bogut was diagnosed with back spasms, and have missed the following four games and counting. While rehabbing in Oakland, the Warriors have gone 2-2. Unfortunately, Bogut has had his share of back problems from 2008-11. There is no timetable for his return.
Moving forward, Golden State should continue to be extremely cautious of how hard they push Bogut. The team placed a minutes limit on him when he suited up (with the exception of his last four games), and it looks like they could head back to that approach with his latest injury.
Andris Biedrins and Festus Ezeli will do their part to fill in, but with seven weeks left in the season, Stephen Curry and Lee must shoulder the load from here on out. Offensively, the team should not have much trouble maintaining its high-octane pace, as they have plenty of scorers.
On the other end of the floor, however, Lee and backup Carl Landry simply don’t have the size to keep drivers out of the paint. Although the Warriors made some improvement on defense this year, they must continue to shine on offense to pull out victories.
I stated that the Warriors needed Bogut to make them a legitimate threat in the playoffs, but that request now appears dubious. Even though Golden State plays more decisively without their prized big man, his size will be needed if they see the postseason.
Bogut was a valuable, and much-needed pickup when the Warriors acquired him, but injuries have reduced the Aussie to being more of a complementary player. At least for now, the Warriors have the depth to withstand his absence.