April 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) celebrates after making a basket against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Bogut Is Slowly Winning Over Warriors Fans

April 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) shoots the ball before game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Monta Ellis always finds a way to sneak into the conversation involving Andrew Bogut.

If you’ll recall, the Golden State Warriors swapped the fan-favorite Ellis for an injury prone Bogut last year. The fans held nothing back, booing the Joe Lacob at Chris Mullin’s jersey night. And all Bogut could do for the majority of the season was sit and wait for his time.

Now, it’s his time.

Bogut’s first half  in Game 4 was nothing short of dominant. The Australian center was all over the place, swatting shots, corralling in offensive rebounds and finishing off mammoth dunks, including this one:

Bogut’s jam over JaVale McGee was a short sampling of his Game 4 performance. He compiled a playoff career-high 12 points, all of which came in the first half, had five rebounds and blocked two shots in 26 minutes. Sixteen of those 26 minutes of work came in the first half, when the Warriors built the bulk of their hefty lead.

In the second half, head coach Mark Jackson rested Bogut as the Warriors’ subs secured a blowout 115-101 win.

Bogut’s stat line won’t indicate that he had a especially dominant game. After all, 12 points isn’t a figure worth writing home about and five rebounds is merely enough to qualify for a center.

Perhaps Bogut’s eight-point first quarter eventually became lost in Stephen Curry’s second half shooting barrage.

It’s still safe to say that Bogut’s electric eight-point first quarter erased a lot of bad tension between him and Warriors fans.

But while things are all rosy now, there probably still is still some existing tension when Warriors fans dare to revisit the trade that sent Monta Ellis out of Oakland. One game isn’t going to entirely clean the slate, and Bogut still hasn’t proven himself over a long-term sample size. Plus, the questions regarding his mobility are valid, and of course, his track record as durable is also tainted.

Ellis, meanwhile, was considered Golden State’s franchise player for a period of time. He was your conventional “good story” player being a low second round draft pick and emerging as one of the NBA’s elite scorers. Despite never being chosen for an All-Star game, he averaged 19.4 points per game from 2006-2011.

Warriors management didn’t feel as if Ellis was going to bring the ultimate contribution, though: Wins. And as it stands, they were right. Despite all the scrutiny endured for shipping away a fan-favorite, they were right. As the Warriors continue to win playoff games, Lacob and company will continue to bask in glory.

Golden State acquired Bogut on March 13, 2012, and the crafty center, recovering from an ankle injured, didn’t play in a single game following the relocation. Bogut played in the Warriors’ first four games of the 2012-13 season, from October 31 to November 7. Then, he didn’t play again until January 28.

There was a lengthy adjustment period for Bogut, who averaged just 5.8 points in 28 games following his January 28 return. He occasionally missed games, which only tarnished his reputation among Warriors fans. More importantly, it messed with the Warriors’ flow, both offensively and defensively. There were times when pundits earmarked Bogut as dead weight, claiming Golden State was better off without him.

Bogut’s days of being a dominant post-scorer are over, at least for the time being. He barely qualifies as a scoring option for the Warriors given the fact that he’s not comfortable enough to receive the ball in the post and quickly make a move. His best use offensively comes in situations where he can catch and finish with little time to cough up the ball by dribbling. Frankly, there really aren’t enough shots to go around.

However, Bogut’s presence on defense and in rebounding situations in hard to ignore. It’s the gritty work that’s slowly but surely augmenting his personal fanbase in Oakland.

He’s got a lot left to prove, but his memorable Game 4 of the playoffs is certainly a step in the right direction.

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