The Golden State Warriors 2013 first round playoff victory against the Denver Nuggets will in all likelihood be remembered as the series that Stephan Curry took over and won for the Warriors. While it is true that Curry’s play was the catalyst to the Warriors victory, they could not have done it without center Andrew Bogut.
Bogut, who was an impact player in the paint for years with the Milwaukee Bucks, earned All-NBA third team honors in 2010. However, because of injuries to his elbow and ankle he has missed 120 games over the past two years, which has made him a forgotten man.
This was noted by Nuggets coach George Karl in his press conference after Game six, where he stated “He had forgotten how good Bogut is.” For Warriors fans, what Karl had forgotten is something they may have never known or even cared about because of All-Star forward David Lee’s play in the paint and the Warriors’ 47 wins this season. All of that was done mostly without Bogut, who appeared in only 30 games.
But, with the arrival of the post season and an injury to David Lee, the Warriors needed to find someone to fill the void in the paint. Bogut, now reasonably healthy, has been that player. Putting aside his 14-point, 21-rebound and 4-block performance in Game six, his ability to protect the rim, rebound and make a high percentage of his shots were vital to the Warriors victories in Games two and three of the series. According to basketball-reference.com they were 20 points better than the Nuggets with him on the floor in those two wins.
Bogut’s performance in the first round gave the Warriors leadership exactly what they hoped for from the veteran center when they traded for him in February 2012. Thier General Manager Bob Myers recently commented to the Sacramento Bee, “Our hope was to combine shooting with size. When you look around the NBA, having somebody to protect the rim, especially in the playoffs, is extremely important.”
Without a doubt Bogut has proven in the 2013 post season that he can still protect the rim and be a highly effective center on both ends of the court, which bodes well for the Warriors chances against the San Antonio Spurs in the second round. Further, he has the size and strength to guard Tim Duncan in the paint. This coupled with the Warriors ability to score on the perimeter should give them a chance against the heavily favored Spurs.
Equally important is what a healthy Bogut can do for the Warriors over the next couple of seasons. He would solidify a formidable roster that also consists of Lee, Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and Carl Landry, which should make the Warriors perennial championship contenders for the first time in four decades.