NBA AM: Banking On Bogut’s Health Is Risky
The Golden State Warriors will head into training camp in the midst of a five year postseason drought, but with the expectation of making a playoff appearance in 2012-13. If the Warriors fail to break the unfavorable streak talent won’t be the root cause of the issue, it will be the team’s inability to stay healthy.
At the center of the team’s playoff ambitions are point guard Stephen Curry and center Andrew Bogut.
Curry missed 40 games last season battling lingering ankle issues. Bogut has missed 130 of a possible 312 regular season games dating back to the 2009 season while dealing with elbow and ankle setbacks.
The Warriors announced this week Curry has been medially cleared to resume all basketball related activity after his surgically repairing his right ankle.
However, the status of Bogut’s return to full contact basketball participation remains up in the air.
It’s frustrating. But I’ve come this whole way–I don’t want to get through 7 months of rehab and then get to the end of it and do something stupid. I want to sometimes do more in sessions, that’s just my competitiveness, but I want to be smart as well.
Bogut has maintained all offseason that his goal is to be ready for the season opener, even if it means missing the entire preseason.
“I want to play exhibition games because I haven’t played basketball in 7 months when it gets to October,” Bogut said to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News. “So I want to play and get out there and get the rust off. But at the same time, if this [pointing to his ankle] is 95%, I’m not going to have the whole six months of being as smart as I can, and I’m not 100% then come back and do something silly.”
“It’s frustrating,” Bogut said. “But I’ve come this whole way–I don’t want to get through 7 months of rehab and then get to the end of it and do something stupid. I want to sometimes do more in sessions, that’s just my competitiveness, but I want to be smart as well.”
Golden State will need Bogut’s defensive leadership on the interior to maximize the roster’s full potential. Bogut is one of the league’s most underrated shot blockers and has averaged at least 2 blocks per contest over the past three seasons.
“I can be the vocal point in the paint, can see the whole floor and talk and communicate, block shots, take charges,” Bogut said. “But the other thing we struggled with last year, when we did get stops, we didn’t get the rebound. I think we were the second-worst defensive rebounding team in the league. So it doesn’t make sense to work hard, get the stop and then Dwight Howard gets a tip-in. It kind of demoralizes the whole feel.”
One of the Warriors’ strengths is the team’s ability to score the ball led by their backcourt and wing depth with talented young players such as Curry, Klay Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes expected to play the lion share of minutes at their respective positions.
“Obviously we’re going to be a scoring team,” Bogut said. “We have some flat-out scorers on our team–Steph and Klay and Harrison Barnes is a scorer, too. He can be very aggressive. David Lee and myself. The list goes on. Richard Jefferson as well.”
But at the end of the day head coach Mark Jackson has preached the need to play stronger defense and it is a message that Bogut has completely bought into since arriving to the team from Milwaukee.
“That’s been a weakness here not just last season but for a number of years–the defense wasn’t a priority,” Bogut said. “So we’re trying to change that. We know you’re not going to win many games and even if you do, you’re not going to win many playoff series scoring 110 points a game. That’s just not going to happen. The math and the numbers and the stats say if you can grind down teams, keep them under 100, generally you’ve got a good chance to win.”
The Warriors finished last season 23-43, which was 13 games behind the eighth seeded Utah Jazz in the Western Conference playoff chase, but were missing two of their biggest cogs.
The Warriors are geared to make a strong run at the playoffs, but they must stay healthy and that’s the biggest question mark surrounding the franchise heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
Eric Gordon Doesn’t Expect Fan Backlash In New Orleans
Eric Gordon, the New Orleans Hornets’ prized asset returned from dealing away All-Star guard Chris Paul, tenure with the franchise was almost a very short one. Gordon endured an injury plagued 2012 campaign and suited up for just nine games a season ago.
This past summer the Phoenix Suns offered the guard a four-year $58 million deal in free agency. The Hornets eventually matched the offer but Gordon went on record stating his desire to play for the Suns early in the process.
Heading into training camp Gordon said he doesn’t expect Hornets fans to hold any grudges and he’s looking forward.
“I’m not nervous at all,” Gordon told Rachel Whittaker of the Times Picayune about potential fan reaction. “I’m here to help these fans, help this organization win games. I’m happy here, and I’m just looking forward to the season.”
Gordon averaged 20.6 points in his nine appearances for the Hornets last season and readily admits it was hard waiting to return to the court because of his knee injury.
“It was very frustrating during that process, but when I got the chance to play the nine games, I felt like I had something to prove on my part,” Gordon said. “We won games, and individually it helped me out, so as long we we’re winning, everything else doesn’t matter.”
Suns’ Channing Frye Out For Season With Enlarged Heart
According to the Phoenix Suns’ medical staff Channing Frye has been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. The condition in all likelihood means Frye will be lost for the season while he undergoes treatment.
Frye has come to grips with the diagnosis and admits the situation has been a tough one to handle.
“It was very shocking and, at the same time, scary,” Frye told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. “It’s not like an arm or knee or an elbow where you’re like, ‘Maybe I can just rehab this.’ It’s something that keeps you going. The only time you hear about things going on like that is (Boston’s) Jeff Green getting open-heart surgery or (Sacramento’s) Chuck Hayes getting a little scare.”
The team is expected to reevaluate Frye in December to see if he can return to on the court activity but the veteran player feels he needs to take more time off.
“I want to take a year off and make sure that I’m OK to play and that I’m not going to do any more damage to my heart,” Frye said. “There’s no reason to push. It’s not worth it for the long run. To be 29 and have a heart issue is very rare. Other than that, I had a clean bill of health. I’m a 120-over-78 blood pressure guy.”