Andrew Bogut is Australia’s greatest male basketball player ever (Lauren Jackson is the greatest Australian basketball player ever), but it seems whenever the Australian media decide to feature the man who may lead Australia to it’s first Olympic gold medal it is how much Andrew Bogut’s salary is focused on how many million the former Dandenong Ranger earns per year instead of his latest on court success.
The Golden State Warriors will finish the 2014-15 season as the best team in the NBA and Andrew Bogut is a huge reason for that.
Bogut is not the player who highlights the box score with offensive production, in fact he is ninth on his team in scoring.
He averages a mere 23.7 minutes. His usage rate in three years with the Warriors is 12.9 percent (considerably lower compared to 19.2 back in his Bucks days) and offensively, he’s barely an afterthought (averaging 6.2 points this season and 6.6 since the 2013 trade that delivered him to the Bay Area).
In his most prolific season, 2009-10, Bogut scored 20 points or more 19 times and posted 37 double-doubles. This season? He hasn’t topped 16 points and has six double-doubles.
So why is he so important to this Warrior team and the Australian Boomers medal hopes in Rio?
His screen-setting ability is arguably second to none. The impact of his screens gives either Curry or Thompson that extra step to get open for a perimeter shot, make a move toward the basket or draw out another defender on the switch.
As you can see from the video below, Bogut starts in his normal position at the top of the arc, as he passes to Curry and sets the screen. He then rolls off toward the basket, where he is wide open for the slam.
These screens are one of the main reasons the Warriors perimeter players are able to lead the league in three-point percentage due to the numerous open looks they get with Bogut being on the floor.
Another weapon that Bogut possesses is his handle. Unlike most NBA bigs who find it difficult to walk and chew gum at the same time (Jalen Rose reference), he is often the most effective player to run the Warriors offense through. This is something most opposition teams are unfamiliar with and something other NBA bigs are unable to defend.
Check out the video below for Andrew channelling his inner Bob Cousy with his dribbling abilities..
With dribbling comes passing, and his knack for finding breaking teammates is very helpful to motion offense Steve Kerr has brought to the Warriors offense this year.
Bogut can draw out the big man with his handle. He can also find a front court player driving to the rim or kick it back for an open three-point shot.
He will finish this season averaging close to 3 assists per game, putting him at the top of the NBA for centres averaging assists and due to coach Kerr limiting his minutes this season, he’s able to do that with 30% less time on the court than any other starting centre in the league.
The positioning of starting Bogut at the top of the arc helps him get a macro-level view of the court before the start of each possession.
Another good option for the Warriors, and a way Bogut also gets assists is from the handoff or after he slides down into his post spot.
Here are some examples of Bogut’s smooth passing ability for a big man.
An unnoticed improvement from Bogut this year has been his improved his free-throw shooting.
After his horrific injury which dislocated his right elbow, broke his right hand, and spained his wrist in 2010 Bogut’s free-throw numbers had been dismal. An obvious side-effect from the violent fall he took, his percentages from the charity stripe dropping 19% (63% to 42%) the following season.
Since his injury Andrew Bogut from shooting generally around the 60% mark prior to his injury to 44% since his injury… until this season. Bogut is shooting 55.3 percent from the charity stripe, which is his highest as a Warrior and is a key factor in him being able to stay in the game in crunch time.
It’s also undeniably a sign of what makes Andrew Bogut one of the toughest players in the NBA.
Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson started a little bit of controversy in his first game back at Oracle as a commentator for ESPN during Golden State’s 112-94 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 9.
Jackson didn’t respect the value of Bogut playing the 5:
“To me, a rim protector is overrated in this league,” Jackson said on the telecast. “You look at the Warriors. No Andrew Bogut, their defense stays or even improves because of the identity, because of what they force you to do.”
The stats tell a completely different story.
When Bogut is on the floor for Golden State, opposing teams shoot 40.9 percent, per NBA.com/Stats. When he’s not, their accuracy ticks up to 43.3. His defensive rating of 94.1 (per 100 possessions) isn’t just impressive compared to the Warriors’ 101.5 when he sits; it is better than the every defensive rating of the past 10 NBA Defensive Player of the Year winners.
And if we go by Golden State’s historic 10.9-point scoring differential — fifth-best in NBA history so far — the easiest way to cite Bogut’s impact is this: A full 77 percent of that differential (8.4) comes during the 49 percent of the Warriors’ minutes Bogut plays.
Bottom line, Bogut is part of a starting five that has gone 45-5. The Warriors are 51-7 when he plays, 9-6 in the games he has missed.
In this video, Bogut has to defend after a turnover. He positions himself perfectly, which sets up for a titanic block in the nail-biting 98-97 win over the Orlando Magic on Dec. 2.
As previously outlined, the Warriors are not the same team without him in the lineup. Therefore, Bogut will get more rest and/or games off during the final 20 contests of the season.
Lacob and company should feel confident that the initial investment is paying off. Having a healthy Bogut, who can impact both sides of the ball, will be essential to fulfilling the championship dream.
These factors are what makes Andrew Bogut great, despite not lighting up the score board and even though the Australian National team seem to be approaching a “Golden Age” comparable to when Andrew Gaze, Mark Bradtke, Shane Heal and Luc Longley played together in Sydney, Australia’s chances of any Olympic hardware are slim without the defensive presence of Andrew Bogut.
“It’s a lot of work,” Bogut said regarding the lead up to the Olympics. “In the past you kind of knew we weren’t a medal team, we knew we were close but we knew we would need to play very well and have a lot of luck to get the chance to play for a medal,” Bogut said.
“Now we are at the stage where we feel confident we can play for a medal. We have the horses to do that, a lot of countries who are successful at that level have the horses to win – now we do too.”
The rapid Warriors fans in San Francisco should feel confident that their investment in Bogut two years ago is seriously paying off. Having a healthy Bogut, who can impact both sides of the ball, will be essential to fulfilling the championship dream and Australia’s medal tally in Rio… and that’s the real reason people should be talking about Andrew Bogut, not his bank account.