One of the players I’m most excited about seeing in a Mavs uniform this season has to be Andrew Bogut. The big Australian was pivotal to the Warriors’ reign over the last two seasons, but unfortunately sustained a nasty injury in Game 5 of last year’s Finals. Maybe you’ve heard that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in those same Finals? It could be argued that if it wasn’t for Bogut going down, the Warriors would have repeated as champs.
Not only does he bring the tenacity and hustle that every team wants in a big man, Bogut is one of the best shot blockers in the league and has the ability to finish strong at the basket.
One question mark that has surrounded Bogut for the last few years is his ability to stay healthy. This season will be no different. Bogut is coming off a really positive Olympics campaign with Australia and showed that if he can stay in the game for long stretches, he can have a super positive impact. But Bogut is 32 years old this season, and knee injuries can really start to take a toll on the body at that age, especially on a 7-footer who dives on loose balls and takes charges on the regular.
There are a lot of key “ifs” for the Mavs this season, but “if Bogut can stay healthy” may be one of the bigger ones out there. Fortunately, the Mavericks have one of the best training staffs in the league looking out for him.
Best Case Scenario
If Bogut can play about 70 games this season, the Mavs should be in pretty great shape. Best case, the pairing with Dirk will work like a charm, giving the Mavs their best center in recent years. Bogut can handle himself on the defensive end — he lowers opponent field goal percentage by almost 10 percent when they meet him at the rim. Alongside Barnes and Matthews, Bogut will spearhead the Mavs to a top 10 defensive team. Carlisle will find ways to really utilize a guy who is not known for his offensive prowess and put him in all the right spots and create a force on this team.
The way that he works with the guards is really important and having a strong connection and ability to play well in the pick and roll will be crucial to his success. Hopefully we will see him form a strong bond on the court with the main ball handlers and also show his ability to get open shots for the wings with his superior passing skills in the low and high post.
In his prime we saw Andrew Bogut average a double-double. Without there being such a heavy load of scoring placed on the guards like in Golden State, we could see a return of that form and see him flourish as a center that can seriously contribute on both ends, something the Mavs have been missing for many seasons.
Worst Case Scenario
Aside from the obvious injury concerns, the worst case is Andrew Bogut being exposed as a big that can’t play alongside the Mavs wings and guards. Last year he had a really defined role that fit perfectly with the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, easily the top back-court for the last two seasons who are some of the best shooters we’ve ever seen. If it turns out that Bogut struggles on the offensive end due to lack of playmaking from the 1 and 2 spot in Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, he may end up being just a slightly better version of Zaza Pachulia, a guy who was a real liability and almost unplayable at times (especially later in the season) when the Mavs needed to score.
Dallas is not entirely deep at the center position — behind Bogut is Salah Mejri, who showed some flashes last season but is recovering from offseason knee surgery. And we’ve yet to really see what second round draft pick A.J. Hammons can really do. If Bogut isn’t available and contributing, absent some sort of trade or pickup, the Mavs could be left with a gaping hole at center.
Bogut is one of my favorite players in the NBA (Australian bias, yes) but it won’t take long for him to become a favorite for Mavs fans around the world. He has already expressed how happy he is to be in Dallas and that’s the right attitude to have for a newcomer to the team.