With news that Dirk should be back soon (fingers crossed!), the Mavs are as close to healthy as they have been in a long while. One of those injuries, however, has been new center Andrew Bogut. With Bogut out, Salah Mejri, Dwight Powell, and (to a lesser extent) A.J. Hammons have seen increased playing time — and Carlisle seems to have found somewhat of a groove in winning a couple of convincing games.
With all that in mind, we asked the staff this week: Based on what you've seen recently, when Bogut is back, how should the Mavs adjust their center rotation, if at all?
Andrew Bogut came to the Mavs from Golden State with the notion that -- like teammate Harrison Barnes -- he could do more with a larger offensive role. That isn't to say we expected Hakeem Olajuwon or anything, but the former #1 overall pick did score in double figures six seasons in a row in Milwaukee before landing on a Golden State squad with so much talent they hardly needed him to even look at the basket.
Sufficed to say, his start as a Mav proves Bogut's days as any sort of scoring threat are over. However, he's still a defensive monster, currently leading the league in defensive RPM after finishing second to Tim Duncan last season. Whatever slight advantages Mejri(or Powell) have as rim-runners over Bogut are clearly mitigated by that fact. So, in basketball terms, Dallas is a better team when Bogut is on the floor.
In non-basketball terms, Dallas really could benefit by having Bogut play often and well, because all signs point to the 32-year-old veteran being a major trade chip for the Mavs at some point between now and the deadline. Bogut likely won't fetch an All-Star or a premium draft pick, but as an experienced, championship caliber defender on an expiring deal, he's an ideal role player buy from a team who is a rim-protector away from a playoff run. Dallas has never really been in a "seller" position during Cuban's tenure, but maximizing the return on a player like Bogut, in combination with whatever draft pick the Mavs earn this season, could jump start the rebuilding process.
Bogut should remain the starter when he returns from injury. He's too important to on defense for them to deviate from what they were doing before he went down. Further, the team has seen a significant decrease in their rebounding with Bogut out. They need him in the middle.
If there is one knock on Bogut it's that he doesn't contribute much on offense. In fact, at times, he seemingly bogs down the flow of the game, holding the ball at the elbow or the top of the key, looking to make passes. He also isn't particularly good in the pick and roll as in he really doesn't roll. Rick Carlisle has said that he wants to get Bogut rolling to the rim more but we'll see how that shakes out.
To alleviate the offensive decline, perhaps Bogut could cede a few more minutes to Mejri and Powell. Both are adept at rolling to the rim. But both also have issues on defense.
Unless they pull a fast one and trade Bogut, he should remain the starting center for the Mavs. He anchored the defense and prevented penetration. Dallas needs him back patrolling the paint. The drop off in defensive talent after Bogut is just too much to handle on a nightly basis.
The Mavs are damned if they do, damned if they don't. Bogut's elite defensively, but the Mavs offense is a trash heap with him out there. Take out Bogut and put in Mejri or Powell and the offense looks better but the defense goes to hell.
In the end, if Bogut's healthy, he should play. If for no other reason than the Mavs need to keep showcasing him to teams that can mask his offensive flaws but desperately need a rebounder/rim protector (Boston and Portland wave enthusiastically). Keep showcasing Bogut's strength to potential suitors, flip Bogut for some value at the trade deadline then feel OK knowing Mejri/Powell/Hammons can somewhat hold for the fort down till the season ends, so much as a group can hold the fort down on a bad team.
Upon his return, Bogut should retain his starting spot. Although he arguably offers the least on the offensive end of the trio of Mavs centers, his strengths on defense and rebounding are sorely needed on this team. The problem for Bogut is that he is either unable or unwilling to make himself a threat on the offensive end. Yes, we’ve seen a few surprising alley oops with Bogue One (Please don’t hate me) as the receiver, but unlike Salah and even Hammons, Bogut does not seem to even consider looking for his own scoring opportunities. He doesn’t seal and call for the ball, he doesn’t roll upon setting space clearing screens, and while the Mavs have long praised the virtues of selfless basketball, the Mavs need to be able to play 5 on 5 on the offensive end.
That said, as the season progresses this may be a case in which Bogut starts but doesn’t necessarily lead the team in minutes played at center. There may be times in games in which Mavs prioritize offense over defense, needing the rim running of Salah over Bogut’s rebounding and one on one defense.
Lastly, until the trade deadline comes and goes, the Mavs may also want to showcase Bogut to teams that are willing to give up a first round pick, providing yet another albeit non basketball reason, to start him.
They need to showcase Bogut's ability for a trade before the deadline, but Bogut should come off the bench. His inability to roll to the rim hampers this starting unit, especially considering their lack of off the dribble creativity. Bogut could thrive on the second unit playing with Justin Anderson and Devin Harris. Both Anderson and Harris are great off ball cutters that can play off Bogut and put his passing to good use. It's not really about Salah being better than Bogut, but his skill set just fits better with the starting unit. They need his vertical spacing to flesh out their offense and to prevent bad starts. It'll be interesting to see what Carlisle decides once Dirk returns to the lineup, because that dynamic is even more important for the big German.