Andrew Bogut Must Stay Healthy for Warriors to be Successful


Andrew Bogut did not spend his post championship summer resting.

The Golden State Warriors‘ center spent last week leading his Australian national team to the FIBA Oceania Championship. As a result, Australia qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and ensured his country would be participating in Olympic basketball for the twelfth consecutive games.

Bogut battled through extreme back pain and originally was not expected to play New Zealand in the final. Despite his physical issues, he contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the 89-79 win.

Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors /

Golden State Warriors

Although it is not surprising to see Bogut fight through the pain for his team and country, it should be nerveracking for Dub Nation. Injuries have been an unfortunate byproduct of Bogut’s career and maintaining his good health is a top priority for the Warriors.

It was no coincidence that the Warriors were finally able to break through and go deep in the playoffs with a healthy-enough Bogut available. After Andre Iguodala displaced him in the starting lineup in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Bogut’s contributions have been largely forgotten.

Except for a stretch in December to January where he missed 12 games, Bogut managed to stay healthy enough to be on the floor consistently. In a season where the Warriors went a franchise best 67-15, the Warriors were just 9-6 without Bogut in the lineup.

Defensively, the Warriors are a much more imposing team with Bogut patrolling the paint. He finished second in the league with a defensive rating (number of points given up per 100 possessions while a player is on the court) of 96.76, which was just behind Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard.

May 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center

Andrew Bogut

(12) blocks the shot of San Antonio Spurs power forward

Tim Duncan

(21) during the fourth quarter in game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 97-87 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We cannot forget how much the Warriors missed Bogut in the previous season’s playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. The Warriors succumbed in seven games and could not consistently keep the Clippers outside the paint. In the decisive game 7, the Warriors gave up a ghastly 126 points.

Besides the addition of center Jason Thompson via trade this offseason, the Warriors were content keeping the same big men. The depth of the big men is still somewhat of a concern, as first round draft pick Kevon Looney will be out four to six months after hip surgery, and Festus Ezeli has had the injury bug in the past as well. That leaves James Michael McAdoo and Marreese Speights, who are both undersized at center. Neither offer anywhere near the defensive presence Bogut gives as well.

Head coach Steve Kerr did well to manage Bogut’s minutes this past season. Last season he averaged 23.6 minutes per game and we should expect that again this season.

It will be interesting to see how Kerr will utilize Bogut if the Warriors are involved in tighter games this year. Last season, they had the luxury of sitting starters for entire fourth quarters because of blowouts. It is very unlikely that that will happen again this season.

The challenge for the Warriors will be to navigate another grueling Western Conference slate and maintain Bogut for the playoffs. Without Bogut’s services, it makes every other players’ assignments much harder, and will ultimately make their run at a repeat title next to impossible.

Next: Golden State Warriors: The Kevon Looney Hip Chronicles