Andrew Bogut has been anything but impressive during his days with the Golden Sate Warriors, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t important to the team.
When Bogut re-injured his surgically repaired left ankle in Thursday night’s embarrassing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, I had mixed emotions. I definitely wasn’t surprised, but I was very indifferent about the whole situation. I feel terrible for the man who appears to be made of glass. I mean, he makes Stephen Curry look like Cal Ripken Jr. But as I watched how the Warriors responded to the loss of their big man, I realized just how important he truly is to the young nucleus of the team.
Bogut is averaging 5.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 24.8 minutes per game. While he doesn’t post a particularly spectacular stat line on a nightly basis, he does a little bit of everything and brings a sense of unity to the team. His toughness and leadership skills help solidify a team made up of mostly laid back personalities. His veteran presence while on the floor acts as another coach and helps Golden State remain composed at all times.
Above all else, it’s the little things that Bogut contributes that go relatively unnoticed by many. The screens he sets on pick and rolls, his passing ability, the way he alters and blocks opponents shots at the rim, and just his overall physicality and basketball IQ are what sets him apart from other centers in the league. Bogut may not be the player that he used to be, but in a league full of overrated and washed up big men, Bogut is just fine for the Warriors run and gun offensive style and newly acquired taste for defense.
As a HUGE fan of rookie Festus Ezeli, I would tend to overlook Bogut’s abilities and wonder if Festus would be the better choice a majority of the time. That all changed Thursday night when Bogut went down. Ezeli is still young and has progressed so much over the course of the season. He can defend, rebound, and is far more athletic and exciting than Bogut, but he tends to get overmatched by the crafty veterans of the league. And worst of all, no Bogut means playing time for Andris “I have no heart” Biedrins, and that’s a loss for all of us.
Bogut is one of the few veterans and the only starter with playoff experience on the Warriors. Every team needs a player that has seen it all and has a few old tricks up his sleeve, especially come postseason time. While Bogut is just listed as day-to-day, his status moving forward is still very uncertain.
Bogut will not travel with the team to Staples Center when they take on Kobe Bryant and the desperate Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. The Warriors find themselves just a half game up on the feisty Houston Rockets, who own the tiebreaker, for the sixth seed in the conference. With this most recent injury of Andrew Bogut, coach Mark Jackson has an important decision to make. Does he continue fighting for the sixth seed, or rest his players and prepare for the postseason?
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.