The Golden State Warriors will be without center Andrew Bogut for a short while longer, according to NBA.com. Currently recovering from ankle surgery he underwent last spring, the former No. 1 pick is expected to miss the team's next three games.
In four games this season, Bogut has averaged six points, 3.8 rebounds and one block in 18.3 minutes per game.
He also isn't the only Warriors player dealing with ankle trouble. Point guard Stephen Curry was limited to 26 games last season due to a balky right ankle, which was also surgically repaired in the spring.
Curry is the leader of the Warriors' offense and an integral member of the starting lineup, but losing him wouldn't exactly be catastrophic. Golden State has plenty of guards who can step in and take over at the point, particularly veteran Jarrett Jack.
In terms of the loss of Curry's scoring, teammates David Lee, Klay Thompson and even rookie Harrison Barnes are more than capable of picking up the slack. This season alone, the three are averaging a combined 40.5 points per game, which accounts for about 41 percent of the team's total offense.
Bogut, on the other hand, is harder to replace. Besides rookie Festus Ezeli, who has seen some time at center in Bogut's absence, the only true center on Golden State's roster is Andris Biedrins. Over the past three years, he has essentially been a non-factor in the Warriors' quest for reliable defense in the paint, even after seemingly breakout seasons in 2008 and 2009.
Thus, unless Curry's ankle suddenly takes a turn for the worse, the Warriors' training staff needs to make getting Bogut healthy its first priority. The team has had next to no stability at center since Biedrins flamed out, and Bogut provides them just that in spite of his tendency to get injured.
Keep in mind, in his seven-plus NBA seasons, Bogut has averaged 12.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. While not mind-blowing, those numbers are good enough for a Warriors team that has been struggling to find a good man to play the 5 for the past few seasons. When healthy and not on a minutes leash, it's clear that Bogut can be a force in the middle for the Dubs.
That isn't to say that Curry's health isn't equally important and his ankle issues shouldn't be dealt with accordingly. He is easily the Warriors' best player, and his 18.7 points per game this season would be a tremendous loss if he was forced to miss any games.
Whose health is more important to the Warriors' future?
As long as he says the ankle is fine, however, there is not much that the Warriors can do except believe him and hope for the best. Until Curry misses one or more games, Bogut's health needs to be on the front-burner.
This way, Bogut can get healthy quicker and have a plan designed for him so that he can be at full force as soon as possible. Once he is back to his old self, there is no doubt that he will bring some much needed defense to the Bay Area.
At that point, the Warriors will finally be a complete team and be able to make a case for a playoff spot.