by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
With the current rash of injuries ravaging the NBA, it is easy to forget the player whose name has been synonymous with injuries the past few years. Nine-year veteran Andrew Bogut has missed 180 games the last five seasons, dealing with a myriad of injuries ranging from a dislocated right elbow to fractured left ankle.
The former No. 1 pick was traded by the Bucks for guard Monta Ellis in March of 2012. Hampered by recurring left ankle injuries and back spasms, he appeared in 32 regular-season games for the Warriors during the 2012-13 season. But he was back on the floor making an impact in last year’s Playoffs, averaging over 7 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 12 starts.
With a glimpse of their center’s potential and on the verge of contending, the Warriors signed Bogut to a three-year, $36 million extension before the 2013-14 season.
On the extension, Bogut says, “They made a trade for me and they wanted me to be here long term and they expressed interest in doing that. I obviously wanted to stay long term too, so the extension worked out for both parties.”
Bogut has appeared in 40 of 41 games for the Warriors this season. “It’s good to be out there again, frustrating last year and with the injuries and what not. I feel good just to be out there playing again, and obviously, having a lot of success with the team so it’s been very, very good.”
“My body feels good,” he continues. “Obviously, Milwaukee was a different role for me than it is here. I’m more of a defensive focus than I am offensive and I don’t have a problem with that. I think we’re playing very well at the moment and I’m excited for the season.”
Bogut is attempting 6.0 shots per game compared to the 10.4 he averaged in seven seasons with Milwaukee. But he is part of a dynamic, free-flowing offense centered around one of the best shooting backcourts in the game.
On playing within Golden State’s dynamic offense, Bogut says, “It’s great. In Milwaukee, the pressure was on me to score a lot and defend. Now, I can kind of focus on defending and getting guys like Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] wide open with some good screens.”
Bogut has already surpassed the five playoff games he experienced during his tenure with the Bucks. This season, the Warriors are looking to build on their second-round finish. On the current roster, he says, “We’re a close group, I think off the floor. That’s the most important thing. When you have good guys in the locker room on an NBA team, it definitely takes a lot of the riff-raff away. That’s the biggest struggle in the NBA. You’ve got guys coming out of contracts and different distractions, but I think our team environment’s very strong.”
During the Warriors’ 10-game win streak from December 21 through January 7, the team made tremendous strides defensively, limiting opponents to 92.8 points and 41.4 field-goal percentage. Bogut gives the squad that balance and some much-needed protection in the paint.
With the pieces clicking, and the experiences of last season to drive them, Bogut talks about the keys to building on last year’s run. “Just stay consistent and try to get home court advantage is the number one thing for us,” he says. “If we can get home court advantage, we think we can make some noise in the Playoffs.”