Andrew Bogut hasn’t been what you would call durable this year. For that matter, he’s never been very durable in his seven year career, suffering a couple of bizarre injuries that weren’t necessarily his misdeed.
Currently, he’s nursing a bruised right ankle that he suffered against the Minnesota Timberwolves about a week ago and further aggravated against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.
Bogut is listed as day-to-day despite missing Golden State’s practice on Sunday and their game on Monday. According to Ric Bucher of CSN Bay Area, however, there’s a possibility that he plays in the Warriors’ season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, just to tuneup before the playoffs begin this weekend.
Either way, it sounds like Bogut will give it a go this weekend. After all, he’ll probably want to at least make an effort, as it’s not as if he’s made a great impression on Warriors fans through his first full year in a Warriors uniform. He’s had his handful of moments, yes, but nothing that tops Monta Ellis’–the player he was traded for last season–many, many moments. Missing the playoffs would, well, shatter his respect among the fans for good.
And truth be told, the Warriors need him. He’s not a 20-point, 10-rebound producer, but his defensive presence is felt, and needed on a Warriors team that lacks size sans him.
Should Golden State meet the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, Bogut will especially be needed for a couple of reasons.
Obviously, there’s the size factor. But this applies to any opponent they will run into in the first round, though, as the Denver Nuggets have three seven-footers, the Los Angeles Clippers have DeAndre Jordan and the Memphis Grizzlies have Marc Gasol. The latter two teams are potential opponents for the Warriors in the first round, but aren’t likely scenarios.
When looking at the power forwards of the Spurs and Nuggets, there’s a transparent difference. The Spurs have Tim Duncan, who’s lost a few steps, but is still very effective. The Nuggets have Kenneth Faried, who’s injured, and Wilson Chandler. Thus, Duncan has the offensive edge. While Faried does have some post moves that he can mix in occasionally, Duncan’s skill-set is much more polished, and is much more likely to give Lee difficulties.
So if Bogut plays, he will likely lock horns with Duncan. If he doesn’t play, Lee and Festus Ezeli would switch off on Duncan, which would be a far less-favorable situation for the Warriors.
For one, Lee a below-average defender in all facets, especially in post-up situations. It’s not a lack of effort that derails him, but he simply struggles in post-up situations. Per Synergy Sports, he ranks 155th in post-up defense. No, that’s not good.
Considering that Duncan is the 30th best post-up player in the NBA, something will give. And the numbers don’t favor the Warriors if Lee has to guard Duncan, even if it’s only every few possessions, as Ezeli, who has a tendency to jump at pump-fakes, could easily show his inexperience against someone as experienced as Duncan. Even if Ezeli isn’t guarding Duncan, he could be outsmarted by if Duncan slips by Lee.
With Bogut, however, the Warriors’ interior becomes a bit more stable. Bogut would allow Lee to take Tiago Splitter, who averages a mere 10.4 points per game. It’s safe to say that Splitter would be a much more ideal matchup for Lee’s lacking defensive abilities. Having Bogut also enables head coach Mark Jackson to pick his spots with the young Ezeli.
On offense, Bogut’s existence won’t be nearly as pronounced. After all, most of the Warriors’ offense stems from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and branches out to Lee and Jarrett Jack. So, Bogut is as close as one can come to a last resort. No surprise there, really.
However, Bogut has a patented hook shot and his passing capabilities are well above-average for player of his size.
But the main thing is that Bogut’s slightly better competence on offense compared to Ezeli, indirectly benefits Lee.
There’s a good chance that Splitter matches up with Lee because he’s more mobile than Duncan. Not to mention that he’s the 46th-best post-up defender in the league, so he’s no slouch on that front. In short, Lee won’t have it easy.
If Bogut can at least make a meager impact on offense, though, Spiltter will at least have to pay some sort of attention to Bogut. That would be the ultimate offensive goal for Bogut–drawing some attention to take some pressure off Lee.
The attention is on Curry, Thompson and Lee. It has been all season, and that trend won’t change in the playoffs. However, for those claiming that Golden State is better off without Bogut, think again; he could be the difference between the Warriors beating the Spurs or getting blown out of the water if they do indeed face each other in the first round.