There’s something to be said about Andrew Bogut’s success. Not only is he Australia’s first, and only, Number 1 overall draft pick into the NBA, the obstacles that he’s had to overcome over the past few years have been numerous. Each time though, the Golden State Warriors center has rebounded back. No doubt, the kid is tough.
Bogut is back to 100 percent health, and showing the NBA world that he hasn’t lost any of his basketball smarts.
Prior to his team hosting Bogut’s Warriors on Monday at Wells Fargo Arena, former Boomers head coach and current Philadelphia 76ers boss, Brett Brown, lamented the fact he never had a healthy Bogut for national team duty during his tenure.
“I’ve had a lot to do with Andrew Bogut, I wished I had more to do with him,” said Brown. “He was never available for any of my national campaigns. Not at the World Championships, or at the Olympic Games. It was just bad luck. I got that four-year period where it was a poor time for Andrew.
“He is something very unique because there’s a toughness in him that’s really special. There’s an ability to pass with his size that makes him ‘Sabonis-like.’ He’s a true potential superstar when he gets healthy.”
Indeed a healthy Bogut makes the Warriors instant championship contenders, many observers feel that the team will go only as far as the Australian can lead them. His defensive presence balances out the potent offensive firepower and up-tempo game favored by coach Mark Jackson lending more weight to the old adage: defense wins championships.
Jackson told Basketball Australia that Bogut was integral to the team’s success.
“Well, he’s another guy that could be the best player on the floor without scoring,” said Jackson. “He’s an elite big man, a big time rebounder, big time defender, a great, great I.Q. He completes us as a basketball team.”
BA caught up with ‘Bogues’ after the Warriors had defeated Brown’s 76ers, 110-90. Bogut finished the game with 4 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Numbers on the board doesn’t define success for Bogut though; winning sure does.
Basketball Australia: This Warriors team is such a fun team to watch. What’s it like for you playing on a team like this? Is it fun to be on a high-octane team?
Andrew Bogut: Yeah, it is. Sometimes you get stuck in awe looking at these guys shooting threes, or pushing the ball. It’s a bit of a different role for me than Milwaukee, - I didn’t get a lot of touches [tonight], but I’m fine with that.
My job is to rebound and defend, and try to get us out in transition early. Some of the stuff these guys [do], they way they shoot the ball it’s a fun style to play.
BA: Speaking of igniting the break, I noticed tonight you grabbed a few defensive boards and the first thing you looked to do was get the offense going from the baseline.
AB: Yeah. That, or I brought it up a couple of times [too]. The coach gives me the option to bring it up ‘cause I can handle the ball too, it’s a fun style to play but for us to win games, we have to defend.
BA: I spoke to the team’s coaches pre-game, and both 76ers coach Brett Brown and Mark Jackson spoke very highly of you. After everything you’ve endured the last 3-4 seasons, what does it mean to you to hear praise like that?
AB: I think people inside the NBA know my affect on the game. I’m not a stat guy, so the stat guys and the casual fan out there, they look at the stat sheet and say ‘look you played terrible’, but I think I affect the game – especially our defense, our rebounding and talking and those kinds of things, thankfully I picked that up early in my NBA career ‘cause with the injuries that I’ve had my offense has been up-and-down.
Coach [Jackson] has backed me to play my role and he knows I’m not going to complain about touches or minutes, I’ll do what I can out there. Some nights I’ll get touches, some nights I won’t, but with the guys we have on our team, I don’t mind that role right now, especially towards the tail end of my career.
BA: The Western Conference is wide open and the Warriors are considered a dark horse to emerge. You’ve downplayed the media expectations but is there a feeling amongst the group that this could be a special season?
AB: I think so. I mean we definitely have a confidence and belief, but you just have to be careful that doesn’t turn into cockiness because that’s when you get bit in the butt.
I’ve been in positions where we’ve had great teams on paper in Milwaukee, we’ve been predicted to win 40-50 games and then you lay an egg and there’s much more pressure on you. Teams like the Miami Heat, you envy them, but then you don’t ‘cause they get the scrutiny and the attention. And that’s what we’re starting to build now and with that come responsibility, we’ve got to out and play the right way every night.
BA: Last season you started showing us glimpses of the pre-injury Bogut during the playoffs, do you feel like the Warriors could have gone deeper in the playoffs if you had been healthy all season?
AB: It’s hard to say in hindsight and San Antonio, you can’t take anything away from them, they beat us fair-and-square. We were banged up a little bit, but that’s not an excuse to make. I think looking back we probably could have got more out of myself, and Steph [Curry] if we were healthy, but I think we rode the wave as much as we could.
No-one predicted us to even make the playoffs, and number two, no-one even predicted us to win one game in the playoffs against Denver.