Andrew Bogut has been an excellent contributor to the Mavericks in many ways when he’s been on the floor this season. In a few other ways, he’s having the worst season of his career. Some have discussed him as a potential trade asset during “open season,” the period after December 15 when players signed this summer can be traded, so I decided to take a look at what he brings to the table and what he takes off of it.
Andrew Bogut: Rim protector, passer, enforcer, and turnover machine
On the positive side of the ledger, Bogut helps prevent a ton of shots at the rim. He isn’t blocking as many shots this year, with a 3.2 percent block rate that would be the lowest since his fourth season, but he’s a huge part of the reason Dallas has allowed the fewest field goal attempts in the restricted area this season (pace being the other major factor).
He’s a drop-back big man in the pick and roll, where he keeps opposing guards out of the paint almost every time—watch him defend a Joe Johnson pick and roll here and force a tough elbow pull-up.
Unfortunately, it also allows players who like the shot to get it with impunity, which Patty Mills delighted in during his 15-point fourth quarter rally to help the Spurs beat the Mavs at the end of November. He managed to “snake” the pick-and-roll action no fewer than four times in the fourth, getting free-throw line jumpers each time. Or watch Kyrie Irving deciding he may as well just take the wide-open three as Bogut stands ten feet away in the paint.
Another way Bogut contributes to the Mavericks’ defense: he makes it very difficult to get a pass to the roll man, as George Hill and Matthew Dellavedova each found out earlier this season.
But his willingness to do the dirty work isn’t just limited to defense. Bogut is ranked third in the NBA in charges per game at 0.5, willing to step in and take one at any time...
But he’s also 15th in the NBA in screen assists per 36 minutes. A screen assist is awarded when a player sets a screen that leads directly to another player’s made field goal. Unfortunately, part of how he gets all those good screens is by pushing the boundaries of legality, and he gets called for quite a few illegal screens as well. The savvy you see in the screen below is something Bogut often gets away with, but this one is whistled for the foul and turnover.
He’s cleaning the glass at career best rates, with an assortment of back taps, a relentless pursuit of offensive boards that are tipped up multiple times, and veteran tip-ins when he can only get one hand up there (below you can watch an insane one-handed grab behind Joakim Noah’s back against the Knicks). He even grabs boards after being switched onto a guard, defending the paint and forcing a bad shot.
His total rebounding percentage (the percent of missed shots a player rebounds) sits at 22.6 percent, and his defensive rebounding percentage is at 35.7 percent—both would be career highs.
Marvelous passing, with some pains
Before arriving in Dallas, one of Bogut’s most heralded traits was his passing ability from the five, and that has turned out to be true in a number of ways. Dallas runs a very simple set for Bogut to get an assist off of a fake dribble handoff (DHO) on the strong side. This is a common NBA action, especially in Rick Carlisle’s offense, where the big gives the ball to the guard and sets a screen at the same time.
Bogut has added his savvy to the play and will fake the DHO and make sure to screen the defender as the wing curls around him, where Bogut drops him a simple bounce pass right to the open basket.
Bogut’s assist numbers in Dallas remain on par with his last two seasons in Golden State, higher than at any other point in his career. Part of that is his excellent instinct for throwing a pass as soon as a defender looks away. Below are three key examples of this for Bogut. In the first two, Dallas runs a set that looks like a staggered down screen for a shooter, but the shooter will curl after the first screen towards the basket. Bogut waits until the exact moment when the gap defender (Solomon Hill and Jamal Crawford, respectively) turns his head away and immediately slips the bounce pass through.
In the second set, two assists to Matthews, you can again see that as soon as the defender turns, Bogut sends the pass right on by him for layups. Incredible vision.
Of course, these works of art don’t come without their costs. Bogut’s turnover ratio is the highest of his career at 21.7 per 100 possessions. Part of that stat is the standard Bogut cheap offensive hold or moving screen, but because Dallas runs a ton of offense through him in the high post, he’s also forced a lot of passes into spaces that were too tight.
On the same play that worked so well for Barnes earlier, Bogut this time forces it even though Utah jumps the screen and keeps Barnes from getting through cleanly. Then on the same fake DHO play the Jazz cover it well, but Bogut tries in vain to slip the ball past Rudy Gobert anyway.
Overall performance and trade value
In the end, Bogut is out again with injury, which dampens his trade value. He’s also been very complimentary of Dallas, but has had his own issues with teams in the past. His passing brilliance would be valued by a number of teams, but his total inability to shoot more than accounts for those positives. He’s a clear positive as a screen setter, and he even gets up for an alley oop now and again, though he isn’t a monster rim roller like Tyson Chandler once was for Dallas.
If Dallas felt the need to move Bogut, the best they could hope for is a first rounder from a contending team and a player to match Bogut’s roughly $10 million in salary. There’s just not a robust market for big men this year, especially those who can’t shoot.
Bogut is likely here to stay in Dallas, and we should all enjoy those moments of brilliance while trying not to groan too hard when he does things like this little hold to earn a foul. He’s been doing it every play, the once a game foul is just a tax on the advantage it creates.