Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have had some spectacular performances for the Warriors so far in the playoffs. Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes have also had significant contributions. However, Andrew Bogut has been one of the most important players for the Warriors in the playoffs. He isn’t one of the Warriors’ leading scorers, but his defense, his physicality, and his energy are significant reasons why the Warriors have gotten as far as they have in the playoffs.
Ever since Bogut suffered injuries to his elbow and his ankle, he has not appeared to be the same dominant player he was in the 2009-2010 season when he averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game on 52 percent shooting. In this season’s playoffs, Bogut is averaging 7.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game on 59.4 percent shooting. Curry, Thompson, Jack, Barnes, and Carl Landry are the offensive focal points for the Warriors with David Lee out, so Bogut is relied upon mostly for his stellar defense.
Bogut’s defensive effort is incredible. His ability to grab rebounds and block shots is extremely impressive, and he has been the most consistent defender for the Warriors this postseason. Even though Lee isn’t known for his defense, his was one of the best rebounders in the league during the regular season. Bogut has more than made up for Lee’s absence by grabbing 11.3 rebounds per game. In addition to his rebounding and blocks, he also changes opponents’ shots because of his massive inside presence. He shows on screens and can force guards to question their shot selection around him. He also can defend a post-up player as well as anyone. His defensive effort can change how an opposing offense decides to attack the basket and run their offensive set.
Going into Game 5 against the Spurs, Bogut held Tim Duncan to 41 percent shooting in the series, compared to the regular season when Duncan shot 50.2 percent. Bogut also held Duncan to 7-for-22 shooting in Game 4. According to Fran Blinebury of the NBA Hang Time Blog, in their series against the Spurs and when Bogut is on the court, the Warriors are allowing 18.5 fewer points per 100 possessions and are outscoring the Spurs by 16.3 points per 100 possessions. Also, the Spurs are shooting 40.5 percent when Bogut’s on the court and 44.4 percent when he’s not.
The Warriors don’t go to Bogut on many of their offensive sets, but Bogut has made his presence loud and clear at times with his physicality. Bogut sets hard screens, which allows players such as Curry and Thompson to get an open shot. Without these screens, Curry and Thompson wouldn’t get as many good looks. These screens can get him into trouble sometimes though, since he’s been called for several moving screens just in this Spurs series alone. He’s also not afraid to back down in the post against one of the best power forwards, Tim Duncan, and he wasn’t afraid to fight for rebounds against one of the best rebounders in the league, Kenneth Faried. Bogut held Faried to only 2.4 offensive rebounds in 29 minutes per game in their first round series compared to Faried’s regular season average of 3.3 offensive rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game.
He isn’t afraid to get physical with the other team too, if necessary. Bogut and Javale McGee had to be separated during Game 3 after getting into a heated verbal exchange. Bogut ultimately got a technical foul because of this argument. Faried also claimed that Bogut hit him in the throat several times during the series. Watch Bogut’s dunk on Faried off of an offensive rebound here.
Bogut goes about each game with an immense amount of energy and determination. Bogut has certainly lost some of his shooting touch with his injuries, but he shown that he still has an immense amount of explosiveness and passion. He has had some of the most vicious dunks of the postseason. In the first series against the Nuggets, Bogut had a monstrous dunk on McGee, and then in this series against the Spurs, he had an incredible dunk on Boris Diaw. Bogut plays with a vicious spirit, and he’s always determined to be physical and play hard no matter what the score is.
If the Warriors want to beat the Spurs, Bogut has to continue to be effective on defense. He is their defensive anchor, and his ability to grab rebounds or block shots can also start fast breaks for the Warriors. Fast breaks lead to easy transition points, and the more opportunities the Warriors get in transition, the better they play. Bogut’s impact has surely justified the Warriors’ controversial trade of Monta Ellis. Bogut is exactly the type of dominant center that the Warriors have lacked for so long, which makes him invaluable to this Warriors team.