Thus far in 2012-13, the Golden State Warriors have managed to reach a stunning record of 22-10. They've won 15 of their past 19 games and sit just two-and-a-half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.
The question is, can the Golden State Warriors make postseason noise without Andrew Bogut?
Bogut has played in just four games during the 2012-13 NBA season due to complications with his recovery from knee surgery. During a Nov. 28, 2012 interview, Bogut claimed that he was on an indefinite leave (via San Francisco Chronicle).
Days later, Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers stated that he was uncertain as to whether or not Bogut would require surgery (via Inside Bay Area).
Thus leaving the Warriors without their defensive stopper for an undefined period of time.
No news. Don't expect any soon RT @skyballin: any news on bogut? bet thats an annoying question— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) December 27, 2012
With Bogut having missed 28 games already, the Warriors have become accustomed to playing without him. After all, this is the first season Bogut has spent with the team.
The question is, can they survive come the playoffs without Bogut in the rotation? Let's break this down.
Come the postseason, the deciding factor in a series is defense.
As it presently stands, the Golden State Warriors rank 18th in scoring defense. They rank just 25th in turnovers forced and 27th in blocks per game.
Fortunately, they also rank second in opponent field-goal percentage.
The issue for Golden State is that, come the playoffs, playing mediocre defense is not enough. As the Warriors run an up-tempo offense, they continue to struggle to prevent points on the other end.
Without Bogut, that will not change.
Festus Ezeli is playing impressive basketball for a rookie, but he's only averaging 15.7 minutes per game. This leads to a common set of Carl Landry and David Lee playing the interior.
They may be dominant offensively, but they leave much to be desired on D. Something must change.
If the Golden State Warriors' defensive woes underwhelm you, their offensive firepower will overwhelm you.
As of Jan. 4, 2013, the Warriors rank seventh in the NBA in scoring offense at 101.8 points per game. They're sixth in assists per game at 22.8 and eighth in field-goal percentage at 45.7.
Furthermore, Golden State ranks seventh in three-point field goals made per game at 8.0.
They rank fourth in three-point field-goal percentage at 39.1 and eighth in points per shot at 1.21. Tack on their 11th-ranked fast-break offense and you have a dominant offensive force.
One that is led by four players shooting at least 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Defensive Signs of Encouragement
Over the past four games, the Warriors have held opponents to an average of 87.3 points per game. Most importantly, all four of those victories have come against teams that made the playoffs in 2011-12.
Boston, Philadelphia and Utah all scored 89 points or less. The high-powered Clippers managed to drop in just 94.
We'll know if this is a trend or a streak when Golden State travels to play the Clippers on Jan. 5.
If the Warriors manage to improve their scoring defense, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Should their woes continue, however, they will find how unforgiving the postseason can be to a team that struggles on D.
The question is, can they make those improvements without Andrew Bogut?