For the Golden State Warriors, Andrew Bogut is an enigma. Sure, this guy has had the whole offseason to regain his health and stabilize his ankles, but the injury bug never goes away (Stephen Curry learned the hard way).
After sustaining multiple injuries, Bogut proclaimed himself to be injury-prone, which didn’t sit too well with a lot of Warrior fans.
The Warriors may have an incredibly deep roster with a lot of reinforcements, but if injury has another plan, they might not even make the playoffs. The reason the Warriors had success without Bogut last year was because of the front-court tandem that David Lee and Carl Landry formed.
Hypothetically speaking, if Mareesse Speights cannot perform as well as Landry did when on the court with Lee, the Warriors are going to have a huge problem. This means Bogut will become a crucial piece to the Warriors’ future success, and will likely see more minutes than intended.
Now that Landry is out of the picture, can Speights fill that role? He’s not as good as Landry in terms of finishing at the hoop, but he can play defense. The Warriors may do well without Bogut because Jermaine O’Neal is more than sufficient, but how can one not wonder? O’Neal had some great numbers last year, but not everybody can resist growing old (Tim Duncan, in this case, being the obvious exception).
Speights may not be great this season, and hey, maybe O’Neal’s last decent season was with the Phoenix Suns last year? If Bogut goes down and these two can’t help out, then the Warriors will have a huge hole in the center position, which just can’t happen on a team looking to contend for a title.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports, when the Warriors were making their postseason run, wrote “The former top overall pick has been fantastic in the postseason, though, averaging eight points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks per game in just under 29 minutes a contest, while shooting 62 percent. He’s missed 10 of 15 free throws thus far, but his impact on the game flies far beyond the reach of a box score. Bogut defends the pick and roll expertly, and he’s mobile enough (even in his somewhat diminished state, due to those ankles) to keep up in transition against two versatile squads in the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs.”
Bogut was that anchor in the center that the Warriors needed during the postseason. Despite some inconsistency, he played with heart and passion. He gained a lot of attention in the post, because at the time, he was a more than capable offensive threat. His pick and roll defense, as Dwyer said, is fantastic. He was also able to keep up in transition on defense. If his health deteriorates, not only will he not be able to do any of this, but he also won’t be able to anchor the defense in the middle of the floor.
“I want to make sure [my ankle is] 100 percent before I’m back on the floor,” Bogut said to Jim Barnett in an interview on October 3rd, 2012. He only played 32 games with the Warriors last season, and fought through intense pain in the playoffs. If he keeps doing that, he may never be 100 percent, and will never be that player that the Warriors hope he would be.
Bogut has struggled with injury in the past, whether it was that ankle of his, or his arm. After playing all 82 of his games rookie year, Bogut has averaged around 54.3 games. His streak of 153 games was snapped when he sprained his left ankle, sidelining him for the rest of the season. On April 3, 2010, Bogut fell directly on his elbow after finishing a two-handed dunk on the fastbreak. He had suffered a dislocated right elbow, a broken right hand, and a wrist sprain. The season following the NBA Lockout, Bogut fractured his ankle on January 25, 2012, and that injury has plagued ever since.
Health has been the key to success in all of the NBA. LeBron James was deserving of his two rings, but all the injuries to players from other teams such as Derrick Rose and Danny Granger may have helped him win a title back-to-back years. Last year, we all know that Rose tragically went down with a torn ACL and has yet to play in a game since.
This year is a different story. Not just Rose was injured, but so many players went down with injuries: Lee from the Warriors, Russell Westbrook from the Thunder, Blake Griffin from the Clippers wasn’t 100 percent, Danny Granger from the Pacers, and even Luol Deng from the Bulls. If none of these players were injured, things could have played out a little bit differently. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. We just have to wait and see how things turn out this next season.
Bogut is a tough guy who played through some injury in the playoffs. If he can’t stay healthy, there’s no telling what could happen. The Warriors will only find out when they try and pair Speights with Lee and see how that works. O’Neal may play a big role if Bogut were to get injured, but if his best years are completely behind him, the Warriors won’t have a healthy center.
In that scenario, the Warriors would have to kiss their championship hopes goodbye.