Andrew Bogut was monumental to culture shift

Apr 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) celebrates after forward Brandon Rush (4) scores a three point basket against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) celebrates after forward Brandon Rush (4) scores a three point basket against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Andrew Bogut was huge in shifting the culture in Golden State, laying the groundwork that lifted them from the basement to the top.

The Golden State Warriors signed superstar Kevin Durant, giving them four All-NBA players.

Unfortunately, even with the rising cap and team-friendly contracts from their original Big Three, the Warriors had to make room. Caught in the crossfire was Andrew Bogut, the Warriors’ starting center. The big man was traded to the Dallas Mavericks to create space for Durant.

Bogut missed the last two and a half games of the NBA Finals, going down with multiple bone bruises after the Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith landed on the center’s leg. He was having an up-and-down series, much like the rest of the team. He shifted from extremes, looking like the key to victory one moment and unplayable the next.

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For the third year in a row, Bogut was unavailable in the playoffs. Now, to be fair to him, some of the injuries he’s sustained have been both unavoidable and strange. I mean, Smith landing on his leg wasn’t really Bogut’s fault. But after a while, the unreliability and the constant injury problems become frustrating.

Bogut played 70 games this past season, starting 66 of them. For many, he was just a placeholder meant to eat minutes. And, at just 20 minutes per game, that’s what his role was. He set the defensive tone to start the game and helped his shooters get into rhythm by setting wonderful screens and using his passing ability to find them looks. He wasn’t the anchor or leader on either end.

The Warriors used him early in games and to start halves. And, unless something was going completely wrong, Bogut wouldn’t be closing out games; the Death Lineup was.

Golden State was, reportedly, frustrated with Bogut’s (and Festus Ezeli‘s) inability to put the ball in the basket. Once a top center in his Milwaukee Bucks days, he wasn’t the scoring threat he once was. His poor free throw shooting kept him from taking the ball hard to the rim and his post-up opportunities were painful to watch, to say the least.

He was an afterthought at times and, ultimately, was collateral damage in the Durant sweepstakes. While the end of his Warriors career was less-than-glamorous–as he recovered from an injury while the Cavaliers recovered from a 3-1 deficit–Bogut was monumental in the culture shift in Oakland.

He was in the middle of a transformation for the Warriors as both a team and an organization. Without the acquisition of Bogut, none of this would have been possible and it’s important to remember that.

On March 19, 2012, Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob stood in front of the Oracle Arena crowd during halftime of a game and was showered with boo’s. It was supposed to be a nice night, honoring one of the best player’s in franchise history as Chris Mullin was having his jersey retired. But it was overtaken by upset fans who were angry that the team traded fan-favorite Monta Ellis (and Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown) for the injured Andrew Bogut.

For a long time, the Warriors had been looking for a big man who could protect the rim. It had been years since Golden State had an inside presence and they felt that in order to turn things around, they needed one. Bogut didn’t play at all that first year and he dealt with injuries in his first full season as a Warrior.

The Warriors have typically been an offensive minded team, content with getting into shootouts with little-to-no defense being played. Bogut changed all that. He simultaneously blocked shots and the notion that Golden State couldn’t play tough defense. He was the anchor and leader on that end of the floor, protecting the rim at all costs, often times covering for some of his teammates.

He missed the 2014 playoffs and the Warriors fell to a Los Angeles Clippers team that bullied them down low. It was clear that Bogut would have changed that series. In a strange turn of events, Golden State’s title run was finished off almost in spite of Bogut. He went down with injury and the Warriors were able to finish Cleveland off with the Death Lineup. And in 2016, his injury might have ended the Warriors’ chances for a repeat.

Aside from the basketball production, the trade itself marked a shift. The new ownership was comfortable making an unpopular decision. After a disengaged ownership spent years striving for mediocrity, Joe Lacob and the new ownership group showed that they wanted to win. And it started with trading for Bogut, trading Ellis, and effectively handing the franchise over to Stephen Curry.

Andrew Bogut’s Warriors career ended poorly. He couldn’t play and the Warriors got beat up down low. He became a scapegoat. The more he played, the less time Draymond Green played at center. A lumbering big man with no scoring ability. The Cavaliers dared Bogut and Harrison Barnes to beat them and they couldn’t.

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Bogut will be suiting up for the Dallas Mavericks next season and they definitely got themselves a great deal. With all of the ridiculous contracts being handed out, Bogut’s once huge deal now looks manageable. They will pair him with Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and he should be effective. The Australian center is a great defender, passer, and screen setter.

As a Warriors fan, it was easy to get frustrated with Bogut as he passed up open layups and bricked free throws. And that’s when he could even stay on the floor. But it’s also hard to dismiss just how fun it was when he dunked on Javale McGee’s head or got into it with Chris Paul after a Christmas Day game.

Bogut’s impact is undeniable. He was so important to all of the Warriors’ current and future success. In his four years, helped lay the groundwork and was a catalyst in Golden State’s transformation from horrendous to great.