Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut did not play well against the Sacramento Kings last week.
Although he rebounded relatively well on the defensive end, his lack of presence on offense yielded the Warriors only two offensive boards and six points. Even when you factor in the effect of two rim shaking dunks — one in transition, the other off a lob from David Lee — the Australian big man finished the game with a plus-minus of -4.
Perhaps more importantly, Bogut failed to contain Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, who had no problem bullying his way to the post and stretching the floor with a few baseline jumpers. Cousins finished the night with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, many of which were made in Bogut’s face.
After the Warriors secured a two-point lead with eight seconds remaining in the game, Kings guard Isaiah Thomas rushed the ball up the court to attack the rim in transition in the hopes of tying the game or drawing a foul. It was only then that Bogut made his presence known.
That block (and the subsequent rebound) saved an already gassed Warriors squad from playing overtime on the road, a difficult proposition even against the Kings. Given the way the team had played up until that point, it may well have saved them the game.
It’s also indicative of just how important Bogut actually is the Warriors in regards to protecting the rim. Golden State opponents shoot only 42.7 percent at the rim with Bogut on the court, per NBA.com. His presence forces guards to take low percentage looks from outside the paint, effectively eliminating easy scoring opportunities.
Few centers influence shot selection to that extent, and that alone makes him valuable to a Warriors team that for many years struggled to manage the offensive output of high scoring backcourts. When you factor in his ability to score 8 points per game, collect roughly 65 percent of available rebounds and provide much needed passing from the interior, Bogut’s importance to Golden State becomes all the more apparent.
“I’m a firm believer the be-all and end-all is our defense. We’re going to score. We’re a great scoring team,” he told Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News earlier this year. “The old Warriors of we-might-guard-this-court or we-might-not… that’s not going to cut it, especially in the playoffs.”
If Bogut keeps contesting at the rim, the playoffs are certainty.