Warriors: Why the Bogut-Lee Tandem Will Be Effective


The Golden State Warriors received a positive shot in the arm on Monday night, as coveted center Andrew Bogut returned from an ankle injury. Of course, Bogut has some rust to shake off, and in turn, he isn’t expected to play in back-to-backs, at least for the next few weeks.

Jan 28, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) celebrates with center Andrew Bogut (12) against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. The Warriors beat the Raptors 114-102. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of when Bogut reaches full strength, the Warriors are just happy to see him back in action, especially at such an early date.

Bogut’s return sparked one major point, followed by numerous subsequent points. The main one: He’s one of the best passers in the league. No, not just for his size, but also in general. Granted, he isn’t prone to making the flashy pass, but he makes the effective pass.

Interestingly enough, David Lee is also one of the league’s better passers from the power forward position, as he leads all NBA forwards in assists per game (3.7). More recently, he’s averaging 6.7 assists over his last three games.

So when you pair Bogut and Lee, what do you get in result? The best passing front court tandem in the league.

Take a look:

Obviously, the video is just one game, making it a relatively small sample size, for Bogut at least. Regardless, it’s a concise clip of what Bogut will consistently bring to the table, which he will slowly begin to prove as he gets back into the thick of things.

Perhaps the most important observation from the above clip is how Bogut and Lee fed off of each other’s passes. One time, it could be Bogut out on the perimeter with the ball, waiting for Lee to make his cut. Another time, it would be the opposite.

To be sure, Lee is the superior ball-handler and shooter. These aptitudes make it easier for him to set up a pass by taking a few dribbles to create separation, and his defenders get up in his face a bit more than they do with Bogut. To boot, Lee has also shown the ability to partially lead a fast break.

Bogut isn’t as skilled in handling the ball, as he’s more suited to being the cutter or pick-setter.

In general, the extra dimensions Bogut adds to the Warriors’ offense are seemingly endless—well, you know what I mean.

First, and probably the most beneficial added dimension, is simply the fact that he’s a threat in the interior. His sweet left-handed hook that he executed perfectly (first play in video above), was a missing facet in the Warriors’ offense. Festus Ezeli, who filled in for Bogut, is still very raw. And when he is in a position to perform a jump hook, he often loses the ball before getting a shot off, if things even get that far.

With Bogut posing a legitimate threat, opponents have to respect him. Meaning, often times he’ll garner double teams, leaving shooters open on the perimeter. I’d say that this would be a favorable situation for Golden State. From Lee to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, there’s not one specific shooter Warriors’ opponents can leave open. It’s just a matter of catching them on the right night, as there’s no specific masterplan to contain such a prolific shooting backcourt.

Indirectly, Bogut’s presence will benefit the Warriors’ shot selection, particularly Thompson, who frequently defers to the hard shot instead of the easy shot or better pass. Of course, Curry and Lee will see more open attempts as well.

Many pundits opined that Bogut would clog up the paint and hinder Lee’s offensive game, much like Dwight Howard has done to Pau Gasol in Los Angeles. This isn’t a bad comparison, per se. Howard and Bogut are both compensating their respective skill sets due to injuries, which impedes their mobility slightly. Both aren’t the best shooters in the world either.

However, Gasol, is much like Lee in that he’s a premier shooting big man. Except, he doesn’t posses Lee’s speed or penetrating ability, which thus explains why he isn’t jelling with Howard. A Lee-Bogut duo, meanwhile, operates smoothly.

In fact, it would be a safe guess that more of Lee’s shot attempts will come in the mid-range now that Bogut is back, and this change in trends would be welcomed. Lee is shooting 43.3 percent on mid-range shots, and more than 70 percent of his baskets are assisted—a pass to Bogut in the post, followed by a quick kick-out to Lee sounds about right.

In a nutshell, Bogut makes Golden State’s offense more dynamic, fluid and better, which is precisely what the Warriors expected from him when they acquired him last year.