Warriors center Andrew Bogut’s recent strong play has been a feel-good story in this year’s NBA Playoffs.
Unfortunately, a second-round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs will be the end of that story.
The former first overall pick averaged 8.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game against the Denver Nuggets. He provided energy throughout the series and was indispensable in the final victory, when he posted a double-double (14 points and 21 rebounds).
Bogut never fully lived up to expectations in Milwaukee, but he had some good seasons. He averaged a double-double for three partial seasons between 2008 and 2011. That run seems to suggest that Bogut’s recent production is sustainable.
The flip side of that is that Bogut’s field goal percentage dropped steadily each season, and he shot only 45.1 percent during 32 regular season games this year.
Injuries have plagued Bogut during his career, but the drop in shooting efficiency is a separate issue. Even when healthy, Bogut does not score at a high rate inside.
His inability to convert consistently will be exposed against a quality defensive team like San Antonio.
The Spurs are the best defensive team in the playoffs, with a defensive rating of 90.6 this postseason (according to NBA.com).
Not only do they limit overall scoring, but they are especially good down low. San Antonio posted the fifth-best opposing field goal percentage in the paint this regular season (41.9 percent, via Mercury News).
In his lone game against the Spurs in the regular season, Bogut shot two-for-nine in 33 minutes of play.
Tiago Splitter, Tim Duncan, and DeJuan Blair are all formidable in the post, and while Bogut may be able to rebound against them (11 rebounds in the regular season game), expect his scoring to decline.
One particular reason Bogut may struggle against the Spurs’ post players is because of their excellent pick-and-roll defense. Bleacher Report’s Jared Dubin discussed their outstanding defense on the Lakers’ rolling big men in this article. Expect the same quality defense against the Warriors.
With the Spurs’ tough interior defense, Golden State will probably lean on Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jarrett Jack to score. That means less touches for Bogut.
Less touches with a low field goal percentage means less scoring.
It was a great story in the first round, but don’t look for Bogut to repeat his success scoring against San Antonio. His rebounding average may be comparable, but his points per game will see a dip.
Without the scoring Golden State got from Bogut in the first round, a second-round victory over San Antonio may be a tall order.
*All unattributed statistics provided by ESPN.com.