Grading Andrew Bogut's Comeback for the Golden State Warriors

Andy LiuCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2013

Bogut's defense will prove to be a boon the rest of the season.
Bogut's defense will prove to be a boon the rest of the season.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Andrew Bogut's first game this season as a healthy Golden State Warrior came against the Toronto Raptors. It was unexpected and ultimately a sneak peek into what is a potentially devastating offensive-defensive team. 

In that game against the Raptors, Bogut played 24 minutes, scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. From that game on, it hasn't gotten better and even hit rock-bottom Tuesday night when Bogut played a measly 15 minutes after he was taken off a minutes restriction. Mark Jackson felt he was getting beaten up so badly inside by the Utan Jazz's Al Jefferson that he took him out in favor of Andris Biedrins. 

But for a moment, or a game against the Raptors, Warriors fans were able to fantasize about what a healthy lineup could do. The defensive sequence Bogut had in that game was simply something that the Warriors have missed in the center position, or any position, for a long time. He was able to block a shot by another seven-footer, turn it over on an outlet pass, but redeem himself by blocking another shot. 

Then two games later against the Dallas Mavericks, Bogut was able to block a pick-and-roll, slide down to the baseline to stop a drive and make the game-winning block against Brandan Wright. 

Since then, it's been a stop-and-go assessment of Bogut's play because of the fact he's mostly played the beginning and ending of halves. To add on to the inconsistencies in the rotations that Mark Jackson has had to deal with, he's had to shuttle Bogut in and out of back-to-backs.

Given all that, Bogut's ability to stay relatively healthy so far in his 12 games is good enough for Warriors fans. 

However, the Warriors' defense has slipped from top-10 status into the bottom of the pack. While it mostly isn't Bogut's fault, he hasn't helped much on the defensive end either.

Whereas David Lee hedges like a chicken with its head cut off on pick-and-rolls, Bogut has chosen to lay back and wait for the defense to come to him. The perimeter players have also helped way too hard on drive-and-kicks, leaving the big men to close out on three-point shooters.

That hasn't worked out well as the Warriors have been torched from beyond the arc to the tune of 45.7 percent, worst in the NBA in the six-game losing streak. 

When the Warriors traded for Bogut, what they might not have known is Bogut's fiery attitude on and off the court. The fist-pumps and shouting at teammates on the court aren't out of the ordinary in the big leagues, but it is his accountability that should provide a spark for the team. In the past couple seasons, there hasn't been a true leader on the team who isn't afraid to call his teammates out. 

Well, after another loss to the Houston Rockets, Bogut lit into not only himself but the rest of the team for its horrid defense. Mark Jackson is the type of coach who won't necessarily go out of his way to call his players out—there's nothing wrong with that—but the defensive captain on the court provides a nice juxtaposition. Bogut is the bad cop to Jackson's good cop, and the team will need it at the end of discouraging losses and even wins. 

As for his current production, even though he is now off the minutes restrictions and able to play in back-to-backs, it is clear that his legs aren't under him yet.

In the TV interview after the game against the Phoenix Suns, he stated that once his legs get back under him, he'll become more confident as a player. There were several instances in the game where Bogut caught a pass under the basket and instead of finishing strong, passed the ball back out to David Lee or another perimeter player. 

It may not seem like much, but Bogut's 7 pts/9 reb/2 stl/3 blk line is the 1st time a GSW center has posted those #s in a game since 2009

— #GSWStats (@gswstats) February 21, 2013

Taking into account those limitations, Bogut was still able to play a season-high 29 minutes, score seven points, grab 11 boards, drop five dimes, two steals and block three shots. 

There was one exceptional sequence in the game where Bogut got the ball at the top of the key, directed Stephen Curry on a backdoor, drove to the basket and dropped a dime to David Lee. That's the potential of the offense in a nutshell. 

With Bogut in the fold, things become much easier for every other player. On a team without a true superstar go-to scorer, Bogut's ability to improve the offense and defense is off the charts. But his current production warrants a lower grade with a ton of room to grow, especially with 16 of the team's last 22 games at home. 

Grade: B-