The Golden State Warriors have become one of the more predictable teams in the NBA. For over a decade, they’ve been a team with some talent, a run ‘n’ gun offense, and an injury-prone group of players. The front office consistently made questionable decisions while the players continuously floundered late in games. This is a team that has not capitalized on its lottery draft picks (Ike Diogu, Patrick O’Bryant, etc…), nor has it had an impactful center. It was easy to predict that the Warriors would have flashes of brilliance, but would be otherwise average. It was easy to pencil them into the 10th to 12th seed in the Western Conference, never quite able to consistently break into the playoffs. But about a week into their 2012-2013 season, this looks nothing like the Warriors of old. We’ll start things off by looking at the center position.
While the Warriors have had plenty of centers (Andris Biedrins, Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle, etc…) over the last decade, none of them can come close to new Center Andrew Bogut. The Warriors acquired the former number one overall pick last season in a trade that sent fan favorite Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks. While masses of fans voiced their displeasure over the trade, it was something the Warriors front office needed to do. The undersized and similar skill-set backcourt of Ellis and Stephen Curry was just not producing wining basketball. And without a strong presence in the paint, the defense was left extremely vulnerable.
Acquiring Bogut won’t pay immediate dividends (he’s recovering from a fractured ankle suffered last season), he’s the better long-term investment over Ellis. Bogut provides the Warriors with not only a solid scoring option down low, but a very good defender as well. The Warriors have searched for a while now for the elusive big man to fortify the frontcourt. Bogut is out for a week or so just to rest his ankle, but if the rest does him good and he’s back to the Bogut of old in the second half of the season, he can be the difference maker. Bogut’s defense, scoring, and very good passing out of the post, can be just what the Warriors need to sneak in to the playoffs.
This isn’t a team ready to make a deep run should they make the playoffs, but they definitely have the foundation for a team that could consistently make the playoffs consistently going forward. Bogut’s health will be the biggest key to a successful Warriors season. They’ve lost the first two games that he hasn’t played due to rest, so the quality of the play he’s given them is already noticeable. If the Warriors want a playoff spot, Bogut will be desperately needed to counteract the size of teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Grizzlies.