The Warriors made a big change in March last year, trading leading scorer Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for center Andrew Bogut. But before anyone had a chance to fairly assess the trade, Bogut was sidelined in April by an ankle surgery.
After a brief return to start the season, Bogut has been inactive once again while his ankle recovers. A report from ESPN in November stated he would be out "indefinitely."
While his window of opportunity to play this season is slowly closing, Bogut has time to make a return. Let's see how much of an impact he might make.
In his four games with the Warriors, the Australian 7-footer averaged six points, 3.8 rebounds and one block in 18.3 minutes a game. He shot 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw line.
While his four games is an extremely small sample size, it does allow a comparison of the Warriors with and without Bogut. According to 82games.com, the Warriors scored 93.7 points per 100 possessions with their new center on the court. When he is on the bench, this number increases to 108.4.
Bogut isn't the fastest big man in the game, so his presence does tend to slow down Golden State's offense. The team is ninth in the league in scoring, averaging 100.4 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting, and shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range, which ties it for second with the Miami Heat.
Bogut is in no way an offensive player, however, he can score around the basket. He has a nice hook shot from either hand and a solid drop-step to get into the middle of the lane. He doesn't have the best spot-up jumper, which would be valuable in a Golden State offense that scores 73 percent of its points off jump shots.
Regardless of his offensive limitations, Bogut is one of the best defensive big men when healthy. He was acquired for that reason, as Golden State has lacked such a presence for some time.
This season, the Warriors allow 105 points per 100 possessions with Bogut in the game, and 105.9 once he checks out. This difference is negligible, but doesn't fully demonstrate how much of a difference he can make defensively. While these four games came within the Warriors' first five this season, one could attribute the skew to the new rotations and unsettled team chemistry to start the year.
As of today, Golden State allows 99.5 points per game, which ranks in the bottom-10 teams in the league. Using Bogut's short 12-game stint with Milwaukee last season as a model, his role as a defensive player becomes evident.
The Bucks allowed just 97.4 points per game with Bogut playing. That average would tie Golden State for 16th in the league with Philadelphia if it happened today. Once Bogut sat, Milwaukee allowed a less-than-stellar 107.3 points per 100 possessions.
Milwaukee was already a decent defensive team under former coach Scott Skiles, so to see that number spike so severely points to Bogut's effectiveness as a stopper.
His play on offense may hinder the team at first, but once Bogut settles in, he should be able to provide a low-post presence alongside forward David Lee. Defensively, he should make a monumental difference to a Golden State team that desperately needs it.
The Warriors' offense has been excellent, which has allowed them to stay ahead of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City.
However, as seen in Friday night's loss to Chicago, when the Warriors shoot just 34.6 percent from the field, they can't keep up. They were outrebounded 56-37 and allowed 36 points in the paint. While Golden State's record of 26-16 is still solid and keeping it in the playoff hunt, Bogut's return should be eagerly anticipated and celebrated when it occurs.