Bogut sat down with Bleacher Report and a group of reporters at a media session Sept. 13, and I asked him if he thought the Warriors could be a top-five defensive team next season—on par with the likes of the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls.
I think we can. The No. 1 thing with defensive teams is that everyone has to buy in. First and foremost, we are a high-scoring team and that's a strength. The reason why we were successful last season wasn't because we were a high-scoring team; we got stops when we needed to get stops, and that wasn't a trademark of the Warriors for the last 20 years. So we're very adamant that that's a focus of what wins games for us.
As has been the case for the Dubs since Bogut came on board, the team's defensive fate rests squarely on his broad shoulders.
He's the anchor, the eraser, the interior presence that is an absolute necessity in any elite defense. Injuries reduced Bogut to a shell of his former self last season, but he dug deep in the playoffs and flashed some of what he could do at full strength.
During that run into the Western Conference Semifinals, the Warriors' overall defensive rating was 103.4 points per 100 possessions. But when Bogut—battered and sore—was on the court, that figure improved to 99.9 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com.
That number would have ranked fifth in the league during the 2012-13 regular season, just a hair ahead of the aforementioned Bulls, per ESPN.
So either Bogut is exceptionally familiar with the NBA's defensive rankings, or he's fully confident in his ability to turn in the kind of performance that earned him such a strong reputation with the Milwaukee Bucks.
He discussed his complete lack of physical restrictions and even jokingly offered up his ankle for photographs, obviously eager to prove that he won't be held back by any physical maladies this season.
When asked whether he still believed he was one of the league's top-three centers, Bogut displayed the kind of confidence that has to have the Warriors excited.
"Yeah, with an asterisk: when healthy. When I'm healthy, yeah, I do."
Guess what: Bogut is healthy.
And with the addition of Andre Iguodala on the perimeter, along with the improvement of Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, he might actually be right about the Warriors' ranking as a top-five defense.
If that turns out to be the case, Golden State might be a little more than a dark-horse championship contender.
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