Breaking news: Andrew Bogut is 100% healthy. Yes, it’s still the offseason.
The news in itself might not garner the pageviews something like “LeBron James decides to sign with the Lakers” might but it’s relevant to the league, and especially to Warriors fans, because they’re a top-10 team in the league now and much of their success will rest on the health of Andrew Bogut: Australian for Band-Aid.
Besides being their only legitimate starting center, their top-three lineups of last season sported the big man in some fashion.
1. Curry-Jack-Thompson-Lee-Bogut was a plus-47 in 204 minutes played.
2. Jack-Thompson-Barnes-Lee-Bogut was plus-12 in just 43 minutes.
3. Curry-Thompson-Barnes-Lee-Bogut was a plus-10 in 421 minutes.
Thompson, Lee, and Bogut are the through-lines in all three five-man units and it’s not Lee who is holding them together when it comes to the defensive end. Bogut’s defense wasn’t exactly stellar last year (he was given a 100 rating both in the regular season and playoffs) but it can go from above-average to very good if healthy. News says that he feels the best he’s ever felt since January of 2012, when he fractured his left ankle.
Now that they have Andre Iguodala at the helm, Bogut’s absolute health is going to be crucial as they’ll essentially be a small-ball team with a seven-footer who has to make up the difference. With Iggy’s style of play, the speed of Curry and Thompson, and Lee’s allergies to defense, it will be a fast-paced game in the Dub center. In 2012-13, they already managed to be the league’s 4th-most mobile team. With Dre, they can very figuratively give Houston and Denver a run for their money.
That means that Bogut will be undergoing major conditioning during the season. After missing 50 games last year, 61% of the year, it’s critical he’s in the best shape of his life to keep up with the new oncourt demands. Already their defensive anchor―he accounted for 30.1% of their defensive rebounds and 4.3% of their blocks in the postseason―he’s going to be required to up his ante to make up for the defensive holes a fast-paced team will bring. It can mean the difference between a team battling for the Western Conference Finals or a repeat of last season’s Denver Nuggets, who had no defensive answer for Golden State.