Golden State Warriors: How Andrew Bogut Can Become the NBA's 3rd-Best Center

Scott Burns@Follow @ScottInTheBayCorrespondent IIISeptember 25, 2012

Golden State Warriors: How Andrew Bogut Can Become the NBA's 3rd-Best Center

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    Andrew Bogut was acquired for the cost of Monta Ellis because co-owner Joe Lacob thinks he is one of the top three centers in the NBA.  Bogut is known for his rebounding, passing and defensive ability, but in order to be the third best center, he will need to step his game up.

    The top two centers in the NBA are Dwight Howard and the enigma Andrew Bynum, who have both been sent to new destinations during the offseason.  The third best center is debatable, but Bogut is currently on the outside of the conversation.

    Bogut had a shortened season of only 12 games last year, but he put up 11.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 2.0 BPG.  He also averaged 2.6 APG, which differentiates himself from other centers.  The man can pass and handle the ball.

    But he still has to justify that he is in the top three within the league, and here is how he can do it:

Scoring

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    Andrew Bogut is a complete player, but he lacks the ability to consistently light up the scoreboard.  His career average is 12.7 PPG, which is good, but it doesn’t scream elite center.

    Numbers don’t lie as Howard averaged 20.6 PPG during the 2012 regular season, while Bynum was close behind with 18.7 PPG.  Highlights focus on the guys who score lots of points or put up monstrous dunks.  More appearances result in instant credibility to the general masses.

    Bogut will have to become more aggressive in using the talent around him to finish more plays.  He now has a legitimate perimeter surrounding him in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, which will space the floor and give him more opportunities to convert.

    Bogut’s highest scoring average for his career was 15.9 PPG in 2009-10.  He will need to increase that average with the deepest team he has ever played for. 

Rebounding

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    Just like Howard, Bogut can affect games by clamoring down on defense.  Bogut is a high-quality defender who enjoys trying to break down big men in the paint with his positioning and his physicality. 

    Bogut is also a strong rebounder, but he has only averaged 9.3 RPG for his career.  However, he did pull down 11.1 boards per game in his last full season in 2010-11 and will look to become the master of the glass next year.

    With a more intensive defensive focus on this year’s team, players on the perimeter will be making opponents take tougher shots.  Tougher shots mean more misses and more opportunities for Bogut and frontcourt mate David Lee to clean up. 

    Bogut will also need to focus on snagging that key rebound when the Dubs are in need of the late-game defensive stop.  He positions himself well in the paint, so he should be in place to have the first chance to secure the board.

The Intangibles

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    Bogut is proof that having all dimensions creates the greatest value.  When he is on, he brings a highly productive offensive and defensive performance to the floor. 

    However, when he is not maximizing his skills during a particular game, he can pick up the team by making a key block, setting a screen for an easy hoop, taking a charge or making the extra effort to secure a loose ball.  Hustle is the key word here. 

    His ability to handle the ball separates himself from the other centers in the league.  He can easily dish out the ball to the open man on the perimeter, but he should also be able to dominate by running the pick-and-roll with Stephen Curry.

    Bogut puts himself in a position to be a team leader in that he will sacrifice himself to help the team win ballgames.  He also likes to amplify the crowd by making a critical block, and the national coverage he receives for doing the little things will only add to his growing reputation.

The Bottom Line

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    The main ingredient here is wins.  If the Dubs win more games and make the playoffs, they will be more relevant to the discussion.  The more relevant the Dubs are means more publicity for Andrew Bogut.

    In order to secure his spot as the No. 3 center in the NBA, Bogut will have to play in at least 66 games or 80 percent of the schedule.  The Warriors' management and training staff are doing a good job nursing Bogut along in his rehabilitation, but he has to be able to play if he wants to contribute.

    Bogut will need to put up a line of 16 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.5 APG and 2.0 BPG just to include himself in the running.  If so, a playoff spot, game-changing defensive and offensive plays and a lot of individual television highlights will catapult him into the third spot for years to come.