If there is one member of the Golden State Warriors who has something to prove, it's Andrew Bogut. After all, the team gave up a star and fan-favorite in Monta Ellis to get the seven-foot center. One might even think that the Warriors' "tanking" job in the latter half of the season was because of the acquisition of Bogut. Because he was injured and never suited up for a game, the Warriors had absolutely no size on the court, and without Ellis' scoring, had little to slim chance of winning.
But, if Bogut can stay healthy and do what was advertised of him, all of this will be forgotten. Some fans may not realize this, but for the first time since Robert Parish in the 1970s, the Warriors have a legitimate threat at the center position. (By the way, the Warriors traded Parish and their No. 3 pick in the 1980 NBA draft to the Celtics for the No. 1 and No. 13 picks, which turned into Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown. With that No. 3 pick, Boston selected Hall of Famer Kevin McHale. Parrish and McHale went on to win three NBA championship with the Celtics. The Warriors? None.)
Anyway, enough with the torture that has victimized the Warriors year after year. For once, the 2012-13 season looks promising for the Warriors, but is contingent on Andrew Bogut producing at the center position. Here is a look at how Bogut will help the Warriors on both offense and defense:
Bogut grabbing a rebound.
Just in case you didn't know (and if you don't, you probably don't follow the team), the Warriors are absolutely horrible at rebounding. During the 2011-12 season, they had the lowest rebound rate (the percentage of missed shots that a team rebounds) in the NBA at 46 percent and the lowest defensive rebound rate at 69 percent.
So it's no surprise that the Warriors traded away their star guard, Monta Ellis, to nab Andrew Bogut, who is a monster on the glass. During the 2010-11 season, his last healthy year, he grabbed 11.1 rebounds per game, good enough for sixth in the NBA. He had a rebound rate of 18.3 percent, which tied him with Tim Duncan for 10th in the league.
The addition of Bogut also takes some of the stress off of David Lee, who had to shoulder most of the load after Monta Ellis was traded. In addition to averaging 20 points a game, Lee somehow managed to grab 9.6 rebounds. This clearly took its toll on Lee, who sat out the final eight games of the season with a hip injury. Now. Lee can focus more on scoring and let Bogut take care of the rebounding.
It goes without saying that a seven-foot NBA center will make his presence felt defensively, but Andrew Bogut has the stats to prove it.
During the 2010-2011 season, Bogut led the NBA in blocks per game with 2.58. In 12 games last year, he had two blocks per game (fifth in the league).
Bogut may be just seven feet tall, but has a wingspan of 7'3", and that gives him the extra reach, allowing him to block shots. And even if he fails to the block the shot, he will at best challenge and make it a difficult shot.
On a side note, who led the Warriors in blocked shots per game last season? If you guessed shooting guard Brandon Rush, you are correct!
Needless to say, Andrew Bogut will provide the Warriors with a consistent defensive presence down low. For the first time in many years, opposing point guards will not be able to drive to the basket and score at will against the Warriors.
Although his contributions on defense are much more important to the Warriors than offense, Bogut will chip in his fair share of points.
He ranked eighth among centers during the 2010-2011 season with 12.8 ppg. Add 11.1 rebounds to that, and Bogut is a walking double-double.
Bogut is an adequate mid-range shooter and can knock down jump-shots from 15-20 feet out. He finishes at the rim strong and can provide highlight-reel dunks on occasion. A large percentage of his points will come off of offensive rebound putbacks, something the Warriors desperately need.
But here's how I think the Warriors will use both Andrew Bogut and David Lee in their offense next season:
Bogut is an underrated passer, averaging 2.0 assists per game in 2010-2011. David Lee can also dish out some dimes, with 2.8 apg last season. Why did I throw that out there?
The Warriors' roster is loaded with three-point specialists.
Stephen Curry (45 percent), Brandon Rush (45 percent), Richard Jefferson (42 percent). Klay Thompson (42 percent), Nate Robinson (37 percent) and Dorell Wright (36 percent) are more than capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter.
We know that both Bogut and Lee are offensive threats, so teams will look to put pressure on both of them down low. We have seen teams double-team David Lee in the past.
If they can draw in defenders, I can guarantee that at least one of the Warriors' perimeter shooters will be left open. With their underrated passing skills, both Lee and Bogut are fully capable of finding the open man to knock down a three.
So pick your poison: Either have David Lee or Andrew Bogut score down low in the post, or, if you choose to use a double-team, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson will drill a three-pointer.
I don't want to get too optimistic here, but if everything pans out and Andrew Bogut stays healthy, the Warriors offense has potential to be a legitimate threat next season.