While there have been plenty of great stories in the NBA this season, perhaps none has been better than the Golden State Warriors.
Not only have they been the League’s best and most consistent team on both ends of the floor, but they are also, arguably, the most entertaining, with their backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson capable of catching fire as quick as a flick of the wrist.
While the offensive exploits of the Splash Brothers receive all the YouTube hits and storylines, the Warriors’ defense is more than deserving of acclaim, as they lead the League in point differential at 10.2 per game during the regular season.
Ten-year veteran, Andrew Bogut, is the enforcer of that defense. Like most of the players on the roster, Bogut has sacrificed for the betterment of the team and has fully embraced his role as rim protector, screen setter and takes his offensive opportunities as they present themselves.
SLAM caught up with Bogut before the postseason began to discuss how less for him has meant more for the Warriors.
SLAM: You guys are obviously having fun out on the floor. But have you really been able to enjoy what you guys are doing, or is the focus solely on the ultimate goal?
Andrew Bogut: It’s been all about the one goal. We know we still have a lot of work to do. Even with having the best record in the League and all that stuff, it doesn’t mean much going into a seven-game Playoff series. We’re still kind of on edge a little bit and we know that we have to keep pushing to get to our ultimate goal, which is to win a Championship.
SLAM: What would you say has been the difference with how you guys have been able to take it to another level this year?
AB: I think it’s a culmination of things. Obviously when you can keep a core group of guys together for three or four years, I think teams have success. You see that with the Thunder and the Spurs out here in the West. In saying that, I think the new coaching staff has been a big reason in pushing us to the next level. I think Coach Kerr has been. Our assistant coaches are great. The franchise is just being really positive with what’s going on. I think it’s a mix of things but as long as we keep working, we can keep winning.
SLAM: There’s an obvious difference from last season’s system to this one, and that has seemed to cater to all your strengths in the roles that you have.
AB: Coach Kerr is huge on ball-movement. He wants a lot of ball movement, wants everyone to get touches. He wants everyone to be a threat, be an offensive weapon. Coach (Mark) Jackson was more of an old school, isolation kind of guy. He was about getting Steph, Klay and our best scorers as many touches as he could.
I think at times it worked and other times it hurt other guys to not touch the ball. I think the ball movement we have now is the best in the League.
SLAM: How have you guys all been able to buy in?
AB: When I was a franchise guy in Milwaukee, it was really frustrating when you had guys who didn’t want to buy in or play their role. That would hurt the team and you end up wasting a whole year. I came to Golden State with the mindset of no longer being the cornerstone of the franchise.
At the same time, you can have a huge effect on helping your best players and making sure that they’re successful and our team is successful. I’ve kind of been at both ends of the spectrum and I understand what it takes for a team to be successful. And I’m happy—especially in the late years of my career—to fulfill a role of setting screens, rebounding and being an unselfish guy.
SLAM: Was the adjustment hard going from a focal point of a team to now being a guy who is content on making things easier for other guys like Steph and Klay?
AB: No doubt! Your ego prides yourself about it. But if you’re a smart professional sportsman and you realize what you’re doing is helping your team win games, you would be absolutely stupid to try and stop that. Would I like more touches? Yeah. But I don’t need more touches because we’re winning games. If I get more touches, it’s taking away from Steph or Klay.
I’ve come to the understand that if I’m trying to win a Championship and be on a successful team that’s winning games, you have to find a role and you have to give something up to give something back Myself, Andre [Iguodala], Marreese [Speights], [Leandro] Barbosa; we got a lot of guys on our team that have giving things up for the benefit of the team. I’ve been part of [situations] where, it can definitely go the other way. If guys started bitching and complaining about touches and all of that, usually all hell breaks loose and you have a losing season.
SLAM: As a teammate, how has it been to watch a guy like Stephen Curry go to work like he can?
AB: He’s the MVP. He’s our best player. What he does for us offensively, he creates a lot of space for guys like me, Klay, Draymond. We get a lot of easy, cheap baskets just because defenses are predicated on stopping him.
We get way too many cheap baskets because of him. He scores a lot of points for us , but a lot of times people don’t see how that helps guys like me, Draymond, Klay, Harrison because of the attention he draws.
SLAM: Why do you think you guys don’t get many people talking about your defense?
AB: Scoring has been Warriors’ staple for a while. People forget that we’re playing really good on defense right now, No. 1 in the League. That’s a huge reason for why we’re successful. With the Warriors teams in the past, they would score 120 a game, but give up 130. I think everyone bought into the defensive side of things and we understand that if you want to actually win, we have to play at that end of the floor.
SLAM: With most veterans, you don’t see them as active on social media as you are. Why have you embraced it so much?
AB: I’ve been on Twitter, pretty much since it came out. I’m very opinionated, which is a good thing and a bad thing, gets me into some trouble. I’m not scared to give an opinion. I’m not politically correct like a lot of people want me to be. So I guess people respect that in a kind of way. I just enjoy putting my thoughts out there.
SLAM: You seem to love the benefit of quickly voicing yourself than blogging.
AB: I just didn’t have a whole lot to do early on in my NBA career. I just started blogging a little bit. I don’t really do it anymore. It was just something that I wanted to try and just really reach out to the fans. Once Twitter started to really take off, it’s much easier to do that by Twitter. The blog I do with the NBA Australia, it’s something I do every couple of weeks. It’s just deeper than a Twitter post and it gives fans some access other than what the general media would put out there.
SLAM: What does Andrew Bogut do in his downtime?
AB: I like to relax. I try to stay off my feet as much as possible. To be honest, I probably do stuff the average person does. I manage my own finances. So I pay all my bills and take care of all that. That takes up quite a bit of time. I have properties all over the world, along with the ones in the States. I oversee all of my banking and investments. As we all know, it takes a couple of hours a day sometimes just to get through emails. I do that and I just like to chill out. Go out to eat, watch a movie. The offseason, I get out more, but in season, I don’t like to get out of the house too much.
SLAM: Really? That’s impressive.
AB: The only reason I didn’t do it earlier is because I had no idea about it. I was 19-year-old who just signed a multi-million dollar contract. So I wouldn’t have known what to do with a dollar of it. About three to four years ago, I took a finance course online for a year and I just didn’t want to pay advisors the amount of money when I could do that stuff myself.
SLAM: You’ve been in the Bay Area for a few years now. Do you have a favorite spot to eat?
AB: To be honest, there’s a bunch of places. There’s not just one spot. California has so many healthy, organic places. I just keep finding new places every other week. I try and get to new places to try and new things. It would be hard to pick just one.
SLAM: I’ve seen that you’ve given advice to Ben Simmons. I imagine the basketball community in Australia is small, but how did you guys connect and what was some of the early pointers that you have given to him?
AB: You’re right; the elite basketball community in Australia is very small. So, I had an open gym one day in my facility in Australia, where we have some five-on-five in the offseason, and he came by. I ended up having lunch with him and the kid has really worked his butt off. He did a great job over here (in the States) and I really didn’t have to give him too much advice, to be honest.
Just keep doing what you’re doing. Hopefully, he has a great year at LSU and once he can put everything together, he’s going to be sensational.
SLAM: Do you ever reflect on how the college game has changed since you were at Utah, and what do you think about age minimums and keeping kids in school?
AB: A little bit, but the thing about the NCAA, how many players should risk their health to play four years? If a kid can get drafted, 10 times out of 10, I would tell him to (leave school), just because you see kids get hurt in college and then what? They’ve lost their chance to be in the NBA or be a professional. It’s just not right, in my opinion.
I think the NCAA has a lot of cleaning up to do, as far as that goes. But that’s a topic I can probably talk all day about.