Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Golden State Warriors: Predicting the Return of Andrew Bogut

By now, we can be fairly sure Andrew Bogut’s ankle injury that kept him out virtually all of 2011-12 with the Milwaukee Bucks and again with the Golden State Warriors will take a lot longer to heal than 7-10 days.
            What was once labeled as a “minor setback” that would leave the Warriors Bogut-less for just a brief while has turned into a debate into whether or not the much-needed center will even play the rest of this season.
            Warriors owner Joe Lacob told USA Today’s Sam Amick that Bogut is on his way to returning to the floor, but again refused to put any timetable on the situation.
“There's no pressure on him,” Lacob said. “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.”
Much closer to what?
Bogut has played in just four games for the Warriors this season, showing signs of exactly what Golden State has always needed in the paint -- a big man that can score and defend the basket with moderate consistency.
Losing the seven-footer pushed the Warriors into depending on another seven-footer -- Festus Ezeli. Fortunately, Golden State has not missed a step, having one of the best starts to the season in franchise history while missing one of their key players.
The team does not need Bogut at the moment, which is why the lack of information, as well as the refusal to slap a date on his return, has been so necessary for the franchise.
Bogut reportedly told World News Australia that he intends to return this season, despite the doubters that suggest his injured ankle has gotten the better of him for the second year in a row.
"I'll definitely play this season," Bogut told AAP on Saturday."I think I'll be ready to play this season. It's just a matter of when." 
"I definitely don't think I'll miss the whole season," Bogut said. "If I do I'll be pretty distraught about it."
 It does feel like Bogut is not sold, himself, on whether he will return this season.
In November 2012, Bogut had blood manipulation treatments to speed up the recovery of his ankle, and that should help in the progression towards rejoining the Warriors in a full-time role. However, that sounds more and more like it will not occur until somewhere past the All-Star break, if at all.
As mentioned before, the Warriors do not need him now. They may not even need him to start the second half of the season. But they do need him for the playoffs if they want to advance, and that is all that matters at the moment.
Making the playoffs, however, is an entirely different issue.
The Warriors do not seem in any rush to get him back on the floor, and frankly neither does Bogut. It would appear more likely that a timetable will be set for the big man sometime after the All-Star break in February, with an expected return of sometime in early March. It would give him enough time to ease back into competition, while still helping the team through the final month of the season. It would also allow Bogut to be at his best heading into the playoffs, if all goes according to the Warriors’ plan.
There is no way around the fact that the Warriors’ trade for Bogut has been a mistake from a personnel standpoint, at the moment. They traded arguably their best player in Monta Ellis for a player that has yet to fully play for them. However, the trade has changed the mindset of this team, and a Warriors team led by Stephen Curry and David Lee do not go 22-11 through 33 games if that trade is not made.
Golden State’s impressive play this far in the season has made Bogut’s injury situation a bit less tragic, but the team will only go this season -- and possibly in the playoffs -- as far as Bogut’s presence in the paint takes them. Whether or not he ever gets to the paint this season is currently the issue at hand.

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