The optimism that surrounded the Golden State Warriors' 2012-13 season took a severe dip after supposed defensive anchor Andrew Bogut's ankle wasn't progressing the way he or the team would have liked. As a result, Bogut was given the ominous "out indefinitely" tag, leaving Golden State and its fans simply waiting for the day when the Australian big man would make his return to the hardwood.
After 38 games of not playing in an NBA game, Bogut finally made his return to the Warriors on January 28, 2013, finally giving everyone a look at what Mark Jackson's team really looks like at full capacity. Although a minutes limit was bestowed upon him (and he won't be playing the back end of back-to-back games until after the All-Star break), his return has seemingly re-energized this team that somehow managed to keep the ship afloat in his absence.
Seeing as how Bogut is and will continue to be a key cog for this team to make any sort of playoff push, let's take a look at how he has done so far in his first five games back in the lineup.
In his first game back after missing a large chunk of the season, Bogut set out to make his presence felt. In close to 24 minutes, he posted 12 points (on 6-of-8 shooting), eight rebounds and blocked four shots (and looked a lot better than his early season stint with the team), helping the Warriors pick up a win north of the border.
While his numbers weren't the most eye-popping, he made his presence felt on both ends of the court. Offensively, he gave the Warriors someone who could actually finish a bucket and even create his own shot with his back to the basket. And, of course, defensively he didn't make it easy for anyone on the Raptors to score inside (except for Aaron Gray, who apparently decided he wasn't going to miss that night).
It was a solid first game back for Bogut and a nice lift for the Warriors, who had lost two tough games prior to start their road trip.
Final grade: B+
The Oracle Arena crowd was ready and anxious to welcome Bogut back in front of a national television audience.
He didn't give the Warriors much offensively on this night, but as he told me on media day back in October, as long as he contributes on defense, his offensive numbers don't matter. And contribute he did.
With the game hanging in the balance, Dallas' Brandan Wright had a chance to give the Mavericks the lead with less than 10 seconds to go, but Bogut managed to get in front of him and get a hand on the ball.
Whether or not you think there should've been a foul call there, Bogut stepped up big when the Warriors needed him to the most, and it allowed the Dubs to walk away with another W.
Final grade: B
It was another solid performance from the Aussie against the Phoenix Suns in Oakland in a game where the Warriors pulled away with ease in the fourth quarter.
He managed to outplay Suns big man Marcin Gortat, putting up 11 points, seven board and rejecting three shots.
Final grade: C+
The entire Warriors team didn't look very good against Kevin McHale and the Rockets. Usually, allowing a team to score 140 points AND tie the record for three-pointers made won't put you in a good position to win, and that was no exception for Golden State.
Bogut put together a decent outing (10 points, nine rebounds) but just like his teammates, he spent most of the game covering his head from the threes the Rockets were raining down.
Final grade: C+
It was a relatively quiet evening for Bogut in Memphis, as he was given the task of facing off with one of the league's best big men, Marc Gasol.
But alas, Bogut's seven points and six rebounds were not enough to help the Warriors overcome the matchup nightmare that is the Memphis Grizzlies.
If the Warriors somehow end up facing off against the Grizzlies in the playoffs (or any team with size up front, for that matter), Bogut's size will surely play a big role, and therefore he needs to figure out a way to make a much bigger impact on the outcome of the game.
Final grade: C