The Golden State Warriors have played very well in the early going of the 2012-2013 season. They are currently 9-6 and tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for first place in the Pacific Division. Most of that success has come despite the re-aggravation of Center Andrew Bogut’s ankle injury. What was initially diagnosed as just 7-10 days to rest the sore ankle has now become an injury that will keep him out one-to-three months. It was revealed that Bogut actually had microfracture surgery on his ankle, a far more severe procedure than the arthroscopic surgery that had been reported since the time of surgery in April. Bogut hopes to be back before the season is done, but didn’t want to put a definite timetable on his return. With Bogut’s injury, all eyes will fall on Power Forward Carl Landry.
Landry’s signing of a two-year, eight million dollar deal in the off-season was a little surprising. The Warriors have become a team that consistently attempts to bring in quality talent through free agency, but the players the Warriors go after normally pass because of the team’s struggles, their location (Oakland isn’t the big, glamorous city that free agents clamor over), or both. But the Warriors got their guy. Landry isn’t the biggest power forward (6’9” and 248 lbs.), but he’s a scrappy player. He is a decent rebounder (5.2 rebounds/game over his 8 seasons, including this season) and can provide consistent offense coming off the bench (12.2 ppg in almost 25 minutes/game). The Warriors have struggled with depth for quite a while, and have subsequently lacked a consistent scoring presence off the bench. Landry doesn’t need plays called for him; he can create his own opportunities. He will need to elevate his game with Bogut’s extended absence creating a big hole in the frontcourt rotation.
Landry has always been a player that has looked good in flashes. He hasn’t really established himself as an effective starter (he’s never started more than 28 games in a season), but has become a consistent contributor as a bench player. Now that Bogut will be out for a prolonged period of time, it is Landry’s opportunity to show what he can do as a starter. The Warriors will rely on Landry to support David Lee and rookie center Festus Ezeli with quality production.
Landry is currently averaging 14.8 points and 7 rebounds per game in 26 ½ minutes. Landry has been excellent on the boards, something that has become a trend for the entire team. The Warriors normally lose the rebounding battles, but this season, they’re winning a lot of those battles. Landry is on pace to put up a career year, and the Warriors will desperately need that effort. Despite the excellent start, the Warriors were a possible playoff team with Bogut healthy. Without Bogut, their playoff chances took a hit. But if Landry continues to do a solid Bogut impersonation, it might be enough to help push the Warriors into playoff contention later in the year.
With guys like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Lee getting most of the press, it’ll be Landry’s performance that will play an equally large role in dictating the Warriors’ success this season. He won’t get the national recognition, but he’ll have an opportunity to steal a bit of the spotlight, especially if he keeps up his early season success.
Prediction: Warriors manage to grab the 8th seed, even without Bogut's presence in the paint.
Stats Obtained from sports.yahoo.com/nba