Controversial? The gold jerseys with sleeves are controversial. The trade that sent Monta Ellis from the Golden State Warriors to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut (there was more to the trade, but those items have nearly been forgotten by now) seemed like the tipping point for many Warriors fans, who wailed, complained and booed Joe Lacob mercilessly on what was supposed to be a celebratory night. With every game Bogut missed this season, the chorus grew louder. Couldn’t the Warriors get more for a 25 ppg scorer who was — at the time of the trade — the team’s most electrifying player?
After the first two games of the Warriors’ first round series against the Denver Nuggets, Bogut’s impact cannot be understated. 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game? Excellent numbers for any center, but he also makes the Warriors much better defensively than they’ve been for years/decades.
Then there are the screens, sudden bursts of physicality that level perimeter players and cause opponents to keep their heads on a swivel. That’s what happened to Andre Iguodala in Game 2. Yesterday Tim Kawakami and I talked to Bogut about his punishing screens, offensive production and the health of his ankle. Thanks to TK for transcribing most of this — I handled the last three questions.
BOGUT: It’s real important. Those things don’t show up on a highlight reel or a tape, but the reason why a lot of guys like Steph and Klay are getting open is myself, Festus, Draymond, we’re setting hard picks.
Every now and then you get a moving screen, so be it, but we’ve been setting hard screens all season. The more we do that, and they get doubled, we get easy baskets, too.
BASG: Do you take pride in that?
BOGUT: We have to screen. If you’re going to go screen somebody, you’d better hit him. Otherwise, it’s kind of pointless. I think that’s the mindset that I have.
Every now and then, like I said, I’ll get an offensive foul, but I’ll take one or two a game to make sure I’m hitting a guy to get Steph or Klay open.
TK: You looked like you really were measuring up Iguodala in the open court. Did you just see that developing?
BOGUT: Well, they were pressuring us full-court, they were trying to get into our guys full-court. Obviously the unwritten rule in the NBA is if they’re going to do that, we try to sneak one up on ‘em.
Obviously it’s not my fault, it’s Kosta Koufos’ fault for not calling the screen.
TK: You think that kind of physicality affected the Nuggets for the rest of the game a little?
BOGUT: I think so, especially when they’re trying to pressure us full-court. I think we want to keep Steph and Klay as fresh as possible, and Jarrett Jack, because they’ve got the ball in their hands for 85, 90% of the game. We don’t want guys pressuring them full-court.
So when they do that, it’s a big guy’s responsibility to go and crack that guy once and then for the rest of the game he’s going to be looking around to make sure he doesn’t get hit again.
TK: When you see Iguodala a little dazed…
BOGUT: I never go out to hurt anybody or do anything cheap. I’ll set physical screens and if they go down, they go down.
Obviously it rattled him a little bit. I think he probably had a conversation with Kosta afterwards to call the screen. But it definitely was a big of a momentum-changer just because it took that pressure off of us a little bit.
They knew that when Festus and myself were out there, that if we’d set a couple more blind screens, they might get hurt.
TK: And he was looking over his shoulder…
BOGUT: The rest of the game. That’s what I was trying to do out there. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just trying to let them know, ‘Hey, you can’t be pressuring our guys full-court and expect nothing to happen to you.’
You set a couple of those and then the pressure kind of died off and it was much easier for our guys.
TK: How are you feeling offensively with your shot right now?
BOGUT: Oh, it’s OK. It is what it is. My touch has been a little bit better this series but it’s still not where it needs to be. Nowhere near close, but I’m trying, trying my best.
BASG: Does Coach Jackson want you to increase your offensive output?
BOGUT: Not really. We just keep running the way we’re running it. If I get a shots I get shots. If I don’t, I don’t. Obviously our best shooters are Steph and Klay, Harrison had a hell of a game. Carl Landry’s been playing really well. I’m not going to try to press and rush for my offense to come, I’ve got an offseason to get my legs back for that. Where I can affect this series and this game is rebounding and defense.
Before we go any further, I’ll provide some context. I asked Stephen Curry about Bogut’s activity and how he looked to him, and here’s what Curry said.
Back to the interview…
BASG: Curry said you’re looking kind of “springy” to him.
BOGUT: I’ve got no choice right now, it’s the playoffs. I’d be lying if I said I felt great, I’d be lying if I said I felt bad. I’m kind of where I’ve been all season. I’m here in the playoffs and there’s no real excuse to say, ‘Well, my ankle hurts, I can’t play as hard as I can.’
BASG: You’ve been mentally gearing up for the playoffs all year then, it sounds like.
BOGUT: Kind of. This is the goal. The year was a frustrating year for me. This is probably the most frustrating year of my career, mentally and physically. It all makes it worth it when you get to a playoff series and when you win a game on the road.