Andrew Bogut and DeMarcus Cousins have taken turns as the starting center for the Golden State Warriors, but who has the edge to close out the season?
It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors have prolific scorers on the perimeter, but it might be the centers that could have a significant impact on the team’s success as the season comes to a close. Andrew Bogut and DeMarcus Cousins hold the keys to a successful run to end the regular season.
They both represent different eras of this Warriors team and contribute in a myriad of ways to success. Bogut is the elder statesman of the duo. He was Joe Lacob’s first impactful acquisition and signaled a shift in the team’s philosophy.
Bogut anchored the Warriors during their 2015 NBA Championship run as well as through the 2016 season where the team won the most regular season games in NBA history. He is no longer the explosive athlete he was during his prime, but Bogut is still a stout defender and savvy playmaker on the offensive end.
Cousins represents the modern iteration of an NBA center. He can score from every part of the court as well as set up his teammates as a primary playmaker. Cousins does not consistently defend as well as Bogut or even Kevon Looney, but when he is engaged, Cousins can more than hold his own against opposing starting centers.
Both players bring their own strengths to the table as a starting center and there is a healthy debate about who should own the position as the Warriors head into the playoffs.
Cousins has started 23 games at center playing almost 26 minutes a game. His traditional numbers (15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game) are impressive for the limited amount of time he’s on the floor, and a closer look at his statistics are encouraging.
On the season, Cousins is holding steady with a 108.4 offensive rating and a 106.7 defensive rating for a total net rating of 1.6. Boogie is not known as a defensive stalwart, so it is promising that he is still a net positive on that end of the court.
In 15 games where Cousins starts alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, the Warriors have a 4.9 net rating. It is nowhere near the net rating of the same five-man unit but with Looney at center (16.9), but it is still a respectable number considering Cousins’ defensive shortcomings.
Cousins has only played with the starters for about a quarter of the season, and while the numbers are good, the Warriors are not quite the same elite team with him on the court.
Bogut has been with the team for an even shorter period of time.
The net rating through three games with the starters (-12.6) isn’t great, but the sample size isn’t large enough to come to any reasonable conclusions about his effect on the starting lineup. What we can do is look at Bogut’s past numbers to get a sense of what he might bring to the table as he plays more minutes.
During Bogut’s last two full seasons with Golden State, his defensive ratings were a stout 94.9 and 97. No coincidence that the Warriors were a top-ten defensive team during those two seasons. Bogut appeared in less than 27 contests and averaged about 15 minutes a game in each of the next two seasons with a myriad of different teams, but he still retained a respectable defensive rating.
At age 34, Bogut is likely to see limited minutes to end the regular season and possibly in the playoffs, but still, he’s a proven contributor on the defensive end and an effective rebounder. He is also familiar enough with most of the starters that he can slide right into the offense without getting in the way of the quartet of All-Stars. It is unrealistic to expect Bogut to resemble his peak form with the Warriors, but he can still be a valuable asset for the postseason.
So, after all of this analysis, who is the best player to start at center for the Warriors? The answer is Cousins. His scoring prowess, dominance on the glass, and playmaking give the Warriors another dimension that Bogut simply cannot offer. Boogie is clearly not the defensive player that Bogut is, but ultimately, it may not matter much since the Warriors usually go small to close out important games.
In the quest for a third straight NBA Championship, the Warriors need every weapon in their arsenal against potential contenders and having two starting caliber centers is a good problem to have.