Andrew Bogut finally health for Warriors
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND — Andrew Bogut knows the deal.
As NBA reputations go, he’s not Andrew Bogut, the No. 1 pick (circa 2005) or Andrew Bogut, All-NBA third-team member (2010) or Andrew Bogut, NBA blocks leader (2011). This is happy-to-be-here Bogut, the 28-year-old who has been through injury hell and back the past few years and who doesn’t care what people are saying about him anymore so long as he’s healthy.
So when big man legend Shaquille O’Neal left Bogut off his list of top five centers recently in an interview with USA TODAY Sports, it hardly became headline material for Bogut as he enters his second season with the upstart Golden State Warriors.
“I don’t take any disrespect by that,” Bogut, who played in just 32 games last season because of a slow recovery from ankle surgery in April, told USA TODAY Sports. “I think he’s probably right at this point. I need to come back healthy, first and foremost, and then after that I know what I’m capable of.”
Which is precisely why Bogut is so excited at the moment.
If the Warriors are going to do the sort of damage they proved capable of in last year’s playoff upset of the Denver Nuggets and strong showing against the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs, they’ll need the big man in the middle to play at the elite level we saw in May. Bogut was a beast against the Nuggets, setting a physical tone before his body failed him, yet again, against the Spurs.
Golden State stole the enemy’s leader in the offseason by signing former Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala — a quality addition to the team’s other perimeter threats in resident leader Stephen Curry and youngsters Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. But their contributions will only go so far unless the Warriors can control matters on both ends in the paint.
They need Bogut, especially considering backup center Festus Ezeli was projected to miss between six to nine months after his mid-June knee surgery and new addition Jermaine O’Neal — while looking revived last season in 55 games with the Phoenix Suns — is entering … [For more on Finally healthy Andrew Bogut can walk after games again, click here.]