Andrew Bogut's Ankle Injury Will Sink Golden State Warriors Playoff Dreams

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

November 05, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) reacts to a call during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 94-92. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

As Andrew Bogut continues to miss games with his ailing ankle, the situation is becoming two Golden State nightmares revisited.

The Warriors have suffered through two seasons of ankle issues already with their star point guard Stephen Curry. Golden State fans know all too well just how long these injuries can linger.

But the mystery surrounding the severity of this ailment is reminiscent of the Moped-gate (via that Warrior fans suffered through with former star Monta Ellis in 2008.

The unfortunate reality of the situation has surfaced. The minor surgery that Bogut was said to have underwent in April turned out to be much more than that. In fact, it was microfracture surgery on the ankle and, as a result, the big man is sidelined indefinitely (according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle).

At 8-6 (fifth in the Western Conference), the Warriors have handled themselves quite well in Bogut's absence. Coach Mark Jackson has slowed the tempo (98.0 points per game, 15th in the NBA) and has his club rebounding (plus-4.43 rebounding differential, tied for fourth-best).

But the teams that have beaten the Warriors employ the kind of big men that Bogut was brought in to stop. They've lost to the Grizzlies (Marc Gasol), Kings (DeMarcus Cousins), Lakers (Dwight Howard) and the Nuggets twice (JaVale McGee).

They've also fallen to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but who doesn't?

Jackson has been forced to improvise in Bogut's absence. He's given more minutes to rookie Festus Ezeli than he had planned on giving (16.6 per game). He's utilized the same small ball approach of the Golden State teams of yesteryear with David Lee and Carl Landry sharing the floor. He's even rolled the dice on much-maligned big Andris Biedrins for 10 minutes a night.

Regardless of the early season results of his experiments, none of them bodes well for a franchise hoping to end a five-year playoff drought.

With Landry and Jarrett Jack, the Warriors attacked the free-agent market looking for players to lengthen their anticipated playoff stay. Now those players have been forced to shoulder a heavy load just to get this club in to the postseason.

Perhaps Bogut's prolonged absence will force Jackson into further experimentation. Seldom-used sophomore Jeremy Tyler is an option. Or maybe first-year GM Bob Meyers can search for undiscovered gold on the trade or free-agent markets.

Surely ownership is discussing how this group desperately needs to move out of the unsightly shadows still looming over this organization from the past regime.

The Warriors are hopeful of not just finding a playoff berth this season, but establishing a winning tradition over the coming seasons. They're willing to spend for production, but have yet to prove to players that they are capable of creating a culture built around success.

This was a blow that the Warriors could ill afford. And its one that could already signal an abrupt end to another optimistic, but fruitless, season.