No team changed its culture quite like the Golden State Warriors at the 2012 NBA trade deadline. With rumors swirling and a need for change upon them, the Warriors opted to trade their franchise player, Monta Ellis, to the Milwaukee Bucks.
In return, Golden State received center Andrew Bogut. Unfortunately, Bogut had been injured earlier in the season and has since been sidelined, with a return for the first regular-season game of 2012-13 expected.
In turn, Warriors fans and NBA analysts began to question the quality of said trade. On paper, Bogut is the better fit for a team looking to enforce a defensive-minded approach. Without him on the floor, however, the Warriors simply traded a fan favorite for nothing.
"His presence alone makes a difference," [Mark] Jackson said. "He's doing all of the things he's supposed to do with rehab and treatment. He looks better and better every day. We're very happy with where he is right now, and we hope he'll be in a position to get some work prior to this thing starting."
This optimism has to instill confidence in the Warriors' fanbase. It also provides reason to believe in the Warriors' dreams of reaching the 2012-13 postseason.
For those unfamiliar with Bogut, prepare to witness one of the greatest game changers in the NBA.
Who is Andrew Bogut?
Andrew Bogut is an Australian center who attended the University of Utah. During the 2004-05 college basketball season, Bogut won the AP, ESPN, Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year awards.
Just months later, the Milwaukee Bucks took him with the first overall selection in the 2005 NBA draft. Players who followed Bogut in that year's draft include Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Andrew Bynum.
Since being drafted, Bogut has posted career averages of 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. He led the NBA in blocks during the 2010-11 regular season and finished sixth in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.
Had he not been injured after 65 games, he may have won the award. His averages of 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per contest offer insight into such a belief, although Dwight Howard would have quite the argument in his favor.
Bogut is a true 7'0" center, a consistent double-digit rebounder and a fundamentally brilliant player on both ends of the floor. Consider this man to be a top-25 player in the league when healthy, but a serious liability in the injury department.
Through seven seasons, he has missed 150 games. Is it worth the risk?
What He Brings to the Warriors
We now know who Andrew Bogut is as an individual player. The question is, what type of effect will he have on the Golden State Warriors as a team? Will it be adverse or of the greatest influence?
To answer that question, the 2010 and 2011 respective NBA regular seasons will offer insight into just that.
With Bogut in the middle and entering his prime, the Milwaukee Bucks went from a borderline horrendous defense to an officially elite one—after allowing 103.9 points per game in 2008 and 100.4 per contest in 2009.
In 2010, that number dropped to 96.0, good for seventh in the league. Just one year later, Bogut and the Bucks allowed just 92.7 points per game.
The question is, what type of effect did Bogut have on said success?
Prior to 2010, Bogut had averaged 11.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 blocks per contest. He had pulled in 6.0 defensive rebounds and 2.7 offensive boards, putting together solid but not spectacular numbers.
In 2010 and 2011, however, Bogut averaged 14.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.6 blocks per game. He pulled in 7.6 defensive rebounds and 3.0 on the offensive glass.
In other words, Bogut went from solid to elite. In turn, the Milwaukee Bucks' defense followed the same pattern.
That is exactly what type of influence the Warriors are hoping to receive.
Why They're Doomed Without Him
Without Andrew Bogut, the Golden State Warriors are a team full of sharpshooting perimeter players and poor interior defenders. While that is a formula for entertainment, it does absolutely nothing for postseason success.
Consider it Bogut or bust for the Warriors.
David Lee is an outstanding rebounder and an elite scorer at the power forward position. He is nothing to marvel on defense, however, which suggests that the Warriors are desperate for a big who can protect the rim.
Without Bogut, their best options for said role are either the overpaid and underwhelming Andris Biedrins or rookie second-round draft choice Festus Ezeli. Once again, it is Bogut or bust.