The Golden State Warriors have locked up the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, and will face the hated Clippers in the first round. This makes for some exciting basketball, but Mark Jackson‘s ecclesiastical Dubs will be without their defensive stalwart in the middle after an MRI revealed that Andrew Bogut has cracked one of his ribs. This is more serious than it sounds.
The Clippers feature two frontcourt players, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who are having career years as the Clippers — after last night’s win over the Nuggets — netted a franchise record with 57 wins so far on the year with another game left tonight. So having a physical presence with defensive smarts in the paint is a must for the Dubs. While Bogut’s cracked rib seems like something you can overcome, Bogut was doubtful when the tests came back.
Via the Associated Press:
Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Bogut both said that he’s out indefinitely and gave no timetable for his return. But speaking in a somber tone in his corner of the locker room, Bogut said he has done enough research and spoken to enough doctors that he will not come back until the rib heals, which typically takes at least six weeks.
“I’ve got to be careful, because if it cracks I’m looking at a punctured lung. You’ll see me in the hospital with a tube coming out of me,” Bogut said. “It’s one of those things people have played through, but this is too close to comfort for me.”
Bogut’s impact is hard to quantify since we tend to place more of an emphasis on his ability to prevent easy looks for opponents, which can be subjective even with advanced metrics. The Warriors give up fewer points when he’s on the court (98.8 points per 100 possessions vs. 100.8 when he sits), but he’s only been on the court for 1770 minutes this season, per NBA.com, and sat for 2148. Plus, his presence relegates opponents to the bottom five in points scored after an offensive rebound. Obviously, opponents score less in the paint when Bogut is on the court than when he isn’t. He’s also fourth in the league protecting the iron (for players averaging at least 25 minutes a night and appearing in at least 60 games), limiting opponent’s to 45 percent shooting at the rim when he’s on the court, per SportVu data.
Except, strangely, it’s on offense where Bogut gives the Warriors just as much of an advantage. The Dubs score more points in the paint when he’s lugging his big Aussie frame around and clearing out defenders. He’s not just a big body, but can pass and set a gnarly screen. The Dubs average 105.3 points per 100 possessions overall this season, but they’re scoring 107.3 with Bogut on the court, and 103.2 when he’s off. Not many 7-0 centers have the vision, and the toughness to bang bodies while also making a cross-court swing pass from the top of the key.
The Dubs can play without him, just like they played without David Lee during their run to the second round last season. But as coach Mark Jackson simply stated after the MRI results were revealed, “It certainly does not make us a better basketball team.”
Bogut, for his part, used sarcasm to show his frustration after yet another injury — he missed 50 games last season after undergoing micro-fracture surgery on his left ankle:
“I’m going to dedicate the summer to learning how to play while avoiding contact at all costs, I guess, moving out of the way, not taking charges and not trying to block shots,” Bogut said. “All of my injuries have been high-impact injuries. I put my body on the line to try to take a charge or block a shot and, unfortunately, I’ve been on the tail end of them. There are some players in the league who are very good strategically at avoiding contact, so I guess I need to watch them and bring that into my game.”
It might seem like Andre Iguodala seems more important to Golden State’s hopes of advancing, at least on the defensive end, especially with Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul, Darren Collison and J.J. Redick manning the backcourt at various times for the Clippers. But the 7-foot Bogut is a presence, and his loss will be a lot harder to overcome on both sides of the ball.
Will the Dubs advance without Bogut?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.