Farewell Andrew Bogut, Warriors Champion
(originally written 12/18/20)
Andrew Bogut just retired after 14 NBA seasons.
It's almost—almost—funny looking back at Bogut's early days as a Warrior. His acquisition (from Milwaukee in early 2012) was not well-received by the Warriors fan base at all; in fact, it stirred up contempt throughout much of DubNation.
Two reasons why.
1) acquiring Bogut meant jettisoning Monta Ellis, the Warriors' top scorer and a fan favorite for several years running.
2) Bogut was injured and not expected to return for quite some time.
When you look at the trade on paper, it's hard to blame Warriors fans for not feeling it. After all, Golden State traded its star player, a guy whose heart, hustle and talent had carried the team for years, for a guy who couldn't even take the court. Things came to a head between fans and management one night.
What I'm trying to say is, through no real fault of his own, Bogut arrived on-scene with at least one strike against him, maybe more.
Bogut didn't debut with Golden State until the 2012-13 season, but once he did, it didn't take long to figure out what he could bring to this up-and-coming Warriors team on the defensive end. He owned the paint. He changed shots, if he didn't outright swat them away. He forced extra passes. He gobbled up rebounds. In short, he made a difference, and it was never more obvious than in the 2013 NBA Playoffs against Denver.
If you watched that series, you remember Bogut continually forcing the Nuggets into shots they didn't want, taking away shots they did want, basically altering their whole attack. Yeah, Stephen Curry was a 24-point scorer that series and Jarrett Jack hit some key shots, but I'm telling you Golden State does not advance without the big Australian manning the middle.
Would the 2013-14 Warriors have lost to the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs if Bogut hadn't missed the whole series with a busted rib? Doubtful.
For all that he did on the defensive end, Bogut could also contribute to the scoring, usually when threes weren't falling and an easy basket was needed. In the paint, he would attack with a quick, effective push shot (that I've yet to see in any other NBA player's arsenal).
But most of Bogut's points came even closer to the bucket—he must have thrown down about 100 alley-oops as a Warrior. And boy, could the man get fired up after finishing off a lob; he perfected the hand-stare years before Klay Thompson did.
When necessary, Bogut could display a little range, such as his step-back J to beat the shot clock at Memphis in 2015 or his three-pointer, also to beat the shot clock, vs. the Pelicans in 2016. Also, Bogut improbably went coast-to-coast and finished with a baby hook over Detroit's Andre Drummond once. I think I got my first gray hairs watching that play live on TV.
Bogut wasn't much of a free throw shooter, but he always seemed to knock them down when they mattered most.
Andrew Bogut shot 58% as a Golden State Warrior.
Usually, however, the big fella was asked to man the high post, set screens and pass, all of which he did expertly. Bogut had been more of a scorer in his Milwaukee days and could have expressed high displeasure over his lack of shots in the Warriors offense. But he never raised a stink about that, nor did he pout over losing minutes when coach Steve Kerr turned to his small lineup with more frequency.
Bogut just went out and balled whenever his number was called. There's about 220 dudes in the league who could stand to follow his example.
Some people blame Draymond Green's Game 5 suspension for the Warriors losing the 2016 NBA Finals to Cleveland, conveniently forgetting that A) Green was in the lineup for Games 6 and 7, and B) Bogut had his knee wrecked by J.R. Smith in Game 5 and was unavailable for Games 6 and 7. It was without Bogut, not Green, that Golden State lost those last three games.
Golden State trailed Game 5 of the '16 Finals by three points when Andrew Bogut was hurt. They ended up losing by 15.
The Warriors parted ways with Bogut, along with several others, that summer as they sought to clear cap room for Kevin Durant. You could say I didn't like losing Bogut, especially since his last on-court act as a Warrior was writhing in pain under the hoop for what seemed like 15 minutes in that Game 5. That was not how he deserved to go out. I was mad at the Dubs for a good long while.
After bouncing around a bit and dealing with more injury, a slimmer Bogut returned to Golden State in 2019 for what ended up as his final 11 NBA games. It was just like old times having Bogut in the middle setting up and dishing to Curry, Green and Klay Thompson. But he mostly rode the bench during Dubs Stint 2.0.
Personally, I didn't mind. I was just happy to replace that last Warriors memory of Bogut screaming on the floor.
Curry, Durant, Thompson, and maybe even Green, will enter the Basketball Hall of Fame one day, and will be remembered and described as the keys to Golden State's title teams of the 2010's. But true Warriors fans know, appreciate and will always remember Andrew Bogut's role in the Warriors' 2015 championship, as well as their 73-win 2016 team—they don't achieve either without his work inside.
Here's hoping for a fun, joyful and prosperous retirement, Mr. Bogut.
You earned it.