How Can David Lee and Andrew Bogut Thrive Together for Golden State Warriors?

Scott BurnsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 25, 2013

Jan 28, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) celebrates with center Andrew Bogut (12) against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. The Warriors beat the Raptors 114-102. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

David Lee and Andrew Bogut have been paired together for a total of 12 contests this season, with the Golden State Warriors going 6-6 in these games.  The agile and swift-passing big men were expected to take the Warriors to the next level, but Bogut’s injuries have limited the development of the pair.

Bogut was supposed to back to nearly 100 percent after the All-Star break and was cleared by doctors and athletic trainers.  However, after helping stop a season-high six-game losing streak against the Phoenix Suns, he didn’t play in the huge win against the San Antonio Spurs.

Ric Bucher from CSN Bay Area tweeted that Bogut will miss the entire trip because of the disc protrusion that caused back spasms.

So, the Warriors will be back in the state they have succeeded most of the season sin Bogut.  Lee will continue with his league-leading double-double trend and the Warriors will finish off the five-game roadie with some tough competition and two back-to back sets.

Upon the return home, the Warriors will be at home for 16 of the final 22 games, which will give Bogut the necessary time to get into playoff shape and reacquaint with Lee.

The two have played well together, but I have to reiterate that it has been in only 12 games and those games have been stretched out throughout the season.

In the big win against Phoenix, we saw a glimpse of what these big men can do together.

In this highlight, the two big men show off their passing skills when Lee drives to the middle of the lane and makes a behind the head pass to Bogut, who drives under the hoop and draws both big men to him and dishes off to Lee for the easy lay-up.

Each player knows how to play offense extremely well and both players know where to position themselves in the front court.  It helps that both players are very generous with the ball and aren’t exceedingly demanding most of the game.

As shown in Bogut’s long-awaited and surprise return in Toronto, the two picked up like they have played the whole season together and Lee used Bogut to his full potential.

As you can see above, Lee finds Andrew Bogut with a touch pass for the easy slam.  Warriors fans can expect a lot more plays like this if Bogut can stay on the floor.

Bogut hasn’t been putting up the offensive numbers that have been expected of him because of the limited appearances that he has made.  As he gets his legs under him with more minutes, he should become more productive.

Since Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins provide little offensive value, I expect Bogut to take away some of Lee's scoring chances.

But the presence of Bogut will open the lanes for Lee.

The biggest benefit that an eventually healthy Bogut will bring is on the defensive side of the ball.  Bogut has provided a lot of key blocks in his limited time.  His most important blocks probably came against the Dallas Mavericks in the highlights below:

Andrew Bogut blocks Shawn Marion and just shows how forceful of a defender he is.  Lee is in the correct position between his man and the basket before Bogut strikes.  Bogut just runs up in front of and forces Elton Brand to pass the ball to Shawn Marion, who Bogut quickly moves over to block.

When Bogut plays, he is very vociferous on the defensive end, even calling out himself and teammates for lack of defensive success.  He is not as quick as he was after last year’s ankle injury, but he still provides the safety net the Dubs need.

This is where Lee gets the biggest boost.  Like last year, Lee gets into trouble when he has to defend his man and help out guarding the center.  When Bogut is in the game, Lee’s defense improves as he can focus primarily on just his man.

The biggest misconception that Bogut’s return has created is that the Warriors are better off without him in the lineup.  The Warriors had problems after Bogut returned because players were relaxing on defense and expecting Bogut to carry 90 percent of the load.

There is an adjustment period that the Warriors haven’t finished going through with Bogut.  The style of play that currently exists is primarily to dish the ball outside for open perimeter shots.  David Lee gets put-back chances or is the recipient on the end of pick-and-rolls.

Bogut is more of an inside-first type player and will have to adapt to the freewheeling style of the non-Bogut offense if he is to be successful.  The Warriors also need to run more sets in the half-court offense to maximize the power of the Bogut-Lee team.

Lee needs to keep his high energy and know how to position himself on the court with the addition of Bogut.  This is a feeling out process and it definitely helps to have most of the games at home to end the season.

The Warriors need Bogut in order to be effective in the playoffs.  Sure, they can win some games by launching shots consistently from the outside, but they will need the inside presence to get past playoff-tested teams.

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