Now let that sink in. Especially the part about the Warriors being a powerhouse. Surprised? Shocked? Confused? So is the rest of the basketball world.
Once that has set in, attempt to comprehend the latter. Golden State is 22-10, without Bogut. He has appeared in just four games, rendering himself a non-factor. Which, for the Warriors, is actually a good thing.
Bogut was supposed to transform Golden State into a defensive force, one that could hang with the most formidable of contenders. Instead, the Warriors are winning in spite of him, contending without him.
Sure, Stephen Curry and company are 18th in the league in points allowed per game (98.6), but they’re also seventh in the league in points scored (101.8). Is Bogut, bad ankles and all, really going to be able to keep pace with one of the NBA’s fastest offenses?
At present, Bogut’s impending return for the Warriors presents more of a conflict that would need resolving, than it does a resolution itself.
Fortunately for the Warriors, the organization is playing the Bogut card close to the hip.
He’s not on the verge of a return.
Per Sam Amick of USA Today, Golden State owner Joe Laco revealed little to no details of Bogut’s progress, or lack thereof:
ell, we’ve elected to take – and Andrew has to – to take a very quiet approach here, to just not say a lot. It’s clearly by design. I think it’s the right thing to do, to let him – without any pressure – work hard to make sure that he’s 100 percent when he comes back, and we have the luxury of doing that since we’ve been playing well. I think, honestly, we’re trying not to create any expectations externally, and we’re trying not to create any expectations internally. When he’s ready, he’s ready. There’s no pressure on him. We’ve told him repeatedly – no pressure whatsoever to come back by a certain date. You tell us when you’re ready, and you feel great. Everything I hear is that he’s coming along really well and that he’s getting much closer.
Vague? Absolutely. A bad thing? Absolutely not.
In the four games Bogut played this season, Golden State’s offense scored 14.9 points per 100 possessions more when he was off the court. Its defense was actually better with him off the court as well, allowing 1.2 points less.
Yes, four games is a very small sample size to go on, but it’s all we have. Assuming he picks up his defensive intensity, though, are the Warriors better off with him in the lineup?
Not at all.
Right now, they’re success is predicated upon offense, which he hurts considerably. He can’t move as well as the Warriors’ other mobile big men (David Lee, Festus Ezeli) and his offensive touch has never been anything more than average.
Understand that I’m not saying he should be traded (who would want him?) nor am I saying the Warriors should give up hope of him contributing. I am saying that they’re better off steering clear of him this year, even if he gets healthy.
Perhaps next season, when he has a full training camp and some extra conditioning under his belt, he can help this team. But not this season; not now.
Not when the Warriors have the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. Not when Curry and Lee are playing like All-Stars.
Not when the Warriors are playing like contenders.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.