(For the past two seasons, Andrew Bogut has slaved away on the defensive side of the ball, taking on not only opposing centers, but anyone else who dares enter the paint against the Bucks as well. He blocks shots, he takes charges and he alters the path of all who attack the basket. But, when seasons end, he gets very little credit. There have been a few grassroots efforts to get him into All-Star games and some support of him as a premier defender, but ultimately, no rewards have been thrust upon him. He received one vote for the All-Defensive second team last season, there are no Defensive Player of the Year awards in his future and he plays on a team that rewards his hard work on defense by playing the worst offensive basketball imaginable.
Oh, and his elbow exploded. Good thing he’s Australian tough.)
Before the injury, I often allowed my mind to think of the future of both Andrew Bogut’s and the Milwaukee Bucks. The team played so solid, with such precision as the 2009-10 season wound down it was simple to see both Bogut and the Bucks achieving so much more when the season ended. Coach Scott Skiles talked about Bogut averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds and we all had visions of 50 wins dancing in our heads. Soon Bogut would be stepping out for jump shots on one end and sending them away on the other.
Then his basketball world was tipped upside down. The Bucks followed suit, posting a record last season that was nearly a mirror image of the team’s successful 2009-10 record. What was hope at the end of one year become doubt at the end of the next.
Maybe we’re past doubt now. We can still hope and wonder if Bogut can return to form as the player he was when the Bucks were at their peak two years ago. But if he never does? At least we’ll have the memories of one of the most enjoyable runs the team has had over the past 20 years. – JS
When I think of Andrew Bogut, it is hard not to think of that early April game against the Phoenix Suns. No matter what he accomplishes in his career, I have a feeling the image of Bogut screaming and kicking, his arm bent and twisted, forever will be the first thing that comes to mind.
As Carlos Delfino’s pass floated through the air and I noticed Bogut breaking away from Amare Stoudemire, I rose off my couch, my fist raised, my mouth open, ready to cheer. Bogut has always seemed right on the brink of something special. Sure, he is a solid offensive player and one of the premier defensive centers in the NBA, but I feel there is a window there for him to become something more. He already turns games with his defense, but he has the tools to be more of a force on offense as well. He is a smart player, but almost seems too smart for his own good. Bogut always seems to be on the cusp of greatness, but never spills over.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. I love how he interacts with fans on Twitter. I loved his game-winning tip-in against the Pacers. I love his blocks and his dunks. Heck, I even loved the mask he wore as a rookie. But because I like him so much, it is all the more frustrating when he doesn’t succeed. I have gone from elated to defeated so many times with Bogut already, I have a feeling I am never going to be able to truly stand and cheer. In the back of my mind, I will always fear he is going come crashing back down to the floor. – JH
I hated the Bogut pick. I resented the pick so much that there was nothing Bogut could have done in his first few years that would have swayed me. What made it worse is that I wanted Chris Paul. So everything Bogut did was inevitably compared to Paul. Bogut is a foot taller than Paul and is nearly 100 pounds heavier, but it didn’t seem that way on the court. Paul has always been a snarling beast of a point guard. In his early years, Bogut was passive, sometimes non-existent offensive presence. Nor was he the game-changer on defense that he’d become.
Do I think that way anymore? Well, Paul is still a revelation at the point guard position and if I could reach back in time and change that pick, I would. But I’m fine with Bogut now. There’s something supremely satisfying everything come click for a guy after years of hope. The 2009-10 season wasn’t just exciting because the Bucks made the playoffs and Brandon Jennings shocked the league. It was Bogut. He became that firmer, more aggressive presence in the post that we’d all been waiting for. He was the team’s failsafe. Whether Jennings needed to dump the ball off or Carlos Delfino needed help corralling a star swingman, Bogut was always the answer.
It was my mistake to doubt Bogut. Historically, he’s a late bloomer. He was cut from his state’s junior team when he was fifteen. A few years later, he was leading Australia to the FIBA Junior World Championships. He had a rocky freshman year at Utah, then next year he won the Naismith award on his way to being the Bucks number one draft pick. It’d only be natural for him to take his time in the NBA. Now the only question is whether his injury history will further derail him. I, for one, will not doubt him.