Andrew Bogut is a key piece for the Golden State Warriors continued rise up the NBA ladder, but Coach Steve Kerr needs to make sure to maximize Bogut’s skill set by getting him more involved in the game plan on offense.
Bogut has provided the necessary defense that former coach Mark Jackson craved, but his offense hasn't evolved as he just didn’t get the opportunities to show off his skills over the last couple of seasons.
So how will Coach Kerr get the most out of Bogut? He will need to make sure that Bogut impacts both sides of the court.
If It’s Not Broke, Don’t Fix It
Bogut plays with a fire inside, and he likes to show those tendencies on the defensive side of the floor. Whether it is making a key block, ripping down a contested rebound or jumping out of bounds to save a ball, he likes to get his teammates and the crowd pumped up.
Bogut led the Warriors in rebounds per game with 10.0 last season, and he also led the team in blocks. Aside from the statistics, he has also been a command center in the key.
Here is Bogut making a block against Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz.
He calls out formations as he sees them develop and positions teammates to give the Warriors a better defensive foundation. He is also a buffer and last line of defense, in case an opponent drives by less gifted defenders like David Lee or Stephen Curry.
His defensive input was well-received around the league, as Bogut finished in 10th place in the Defensive Player of the Year vote.
Since the proposed Kerr-style offense involves a lot of open space and transition, Bogut will have to make sure that he is in good shape to be significantly involved in the offense but have enough speed to get back into his defensive position.
He has done it before, as shown in this play against the New York Knicks when he was a member of the Bucks.
Where Is the Offense?
On the offensive side of the ball, Bogut has been relatively M.I.A. since joining the Dubs. Jackson did not utilize the big man’s skill set, and as a result, Bogut finished with career low PPG during the last two seasons (5.8 & 7.3).
A part of the problem is that he is still suffering from the gruesome arm injury that he sustained while being pushed after a slam dunk in 2010. The result has made it difficult to put up consistent right-handed shots.
Based on that information, one would probably surmise that Bogut is not overly skilled offensively. However, he is a slick passer and knows how to handle the ball well for a center.
Here is an example of Bogut’s skill in dribbling and passing the ball, as he leads the break.
Before joining the Dubs, Bogut put up some respectable offensive numbers, averaging in double figures in his last six seasons with Milwaukee. His most productive season was in 2009-2010 when he tallied 15.9 points per game.
In his days with the Bucks, Bogut used to have his go-to moves. He would dominate the post and primarily use his left-handed jump hook.
Kerr will employ an offense with many elements from the triangle, an offense used for three (of his five total) NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls under Coach Phil Jackson. It is a game plan that is highly reliant on the offensive end.
Bogut will have to use all of his tools to acclimate himself to the new philosophy. The key words associated with the new style are penetration, spacing, player movement, positioning and offensive rebounding.
The offense depends on the spacing of players usually between 15 to 20 feet apart, and it is more of a read and react style, instead of using defined plays. The triangle should utilize Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to put them in the best positions to score.
Bogut will have to be able to use his passing ability to hit open targets on the perimeter, but he will also need to find David Lee and Andre Iguodala in the lanes.
He will also need to penetrate in order to score and focus his attention on offensive boards.
He should make his point total rise with clean-up jobs like what he did with Curry this last season.
Work Still Needed
Besides getting in better physical condition and completing the rehabilitation of his previous injuries, Bogut still has one major flaw, free-throw shooting.
He has seen his percentages dip during the past four seasons since the arm injury, and as a result, teams have at times employed the hack-a-Bogut strategy. Last season, Bogut only sunk 34.4 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe and was routinely pulled to avoid the futility.
He is a career 56.2 percent free-throw shooter, but he will need to take extra attempts in practice to fix the problem. He can also seek out the assistance of one his new coaches to tweak his shooting stroke.
Since the philosophy is so offensive-oriented, Bogut will get more chances at the line. He should return to at least three attempts per game, which he achieved with the Bucks.
Bogut will become a more integral player in the Kerr's new offense, but don’t expect him to post anywhere near the numbers of Curry or Thompson. However, double figures in scoring is an obvious obtainable goal.
Kerr will presumably use Bogut in the same manner that Phil Jackson used Luc Longley in Chicago, where Longley’s assist and points totals were at career highs during the Bulls' second three-peat of the '90s.
In an interview with SportSentral radio and as reported by the San Jose Mercury News' Diamond Leung, Coach Kerr flew to Australia to meet with Bogut, and Bogut detailed that he was excited to hear about offensive opportunities.
He actually brought an iPad along to lunch and showed me actually clips of Luc Longley playing that similar type role, triangle-facilitator type of role and wanted me to be a bit more aggressive offensively and run through me a little more, so that’s always good to hear.
Bogut should increase his average to over 10 points per game, and his assist totals to over three per game (up from 1.7 last season), as the new offense should provide more opportunities for the big man to get the ball to Lee, Iguodala and the Splash Brothers.
The only major impediment to his success is the constant injury concern. With the spacing of the new offense and a potentially less-congested key, Bogut could finish with 70-plus games played.
With the way his contract is structured, the new Kerr style could pay big dividends.
He should also have a chance to show the same defensive dominance in the playoffs that he did in the 2012-13 season. An NBA title is still the number one goal, and Bogut is a necessity to get there.