What player first comes to mind when we're talking about the Golden State Warriors? I think I speak for everyone when I say it would be Steph Curry. But who's the next Warrior we think of? Most people would probably say his "Splash Brother", Klay Thompson, or maybe some others would say Andre Iguodala. Who comes after that is really up in the air. It could be a number of guys - a list that may include center Andrew Bogut.
The Dubs' big man often goes unnoticed in mainstream media, but has seen a spike in his media popularity as of late for all the wrong reasons. You see, eight days ago, Bogut was diagnosed with a broken rib. He's out indefinitely, and his return is questionable for the playoffs. The only slim chance for Bogut to return in the 2013-14 campaign is if the Warriors somehow make a deep run into the playoffs.
On that gloomy note, let's take a look at how Bogut's absence has affected the Warriors in their first two games versus the Clips, and how it may alter the outcome of the series.
According to our advanced metrics here at numberFire, Bogut is a fairly efficient player with a nERD of 6.0 (good enough for second best on his team), and a numberFire efficiency of 2.7 (also second on the team). Golden State's much improved defense over the past year and a half is very much due to Bogut and his presence. This season, the Warriors rank fifth in rebounding (45.3) and 10th in points allowed per game (99.5). The Warriors also boast the third-best effective field goal percentage against (47.7%), and fourth-best defensive rating (102.6 points allowed/100 possessions). Since Mark Jackson and Bogut came aboard, the Warriors' defensive improvements are apparent.
A look into Bogut's own defensive numbers show a direct correlation between his team's success and his own. This year, in his 67 games played, Bogut has averaged 7.3 defensive rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest. Advanced statistics show an even greater impact, as Bogut has an outstanding defensive rating of 96 points allowed per 100 possessions while also contributing 4.1 defensive win shares.
The numbers make it clear enough, however, that Bogut means so much more than numbers to Golden State. His presence alone as a seven-footer plays a big role in the Warrior defense. But, what, if any, would his impact be on the series at hand with the L.A. Clippers? We must look back to the regular season matchups in order to understand "The Bogut Effect."
The Bogut Effect
Bogut played in all four games with the Clippers this regular season. The Warriors lost both games in Los Angeles, while surrendering an average of 118.5 points. In those two losses, Golden State earned abysmal defensive ratings of 115.6 and 121.6. Bogut's numbers were poor as well, as he had defensive ratings of 115 and 122 respectively, clearly off his season average of 96.
Without Bogut in the first two playoff games against the Clips, the team has fared very similarly. The Warriors have given up an average of 121.5 points with defensive ratings of 104.8 and 139.9 respectively. As the numbers indicate, the Warriors played much better defense (partly due to Blake Griffin's foul trouble) in the first game than the second. But there hasn't been much of a difference without Bogut, as he failed to perform well defensively against the Clippers at the Staples Center. What about going forward?
Completely opposite the two games in L.A., the Warriors won both matchups on their home court in Oakland. They played much better defensively while holding court against the Clippers. The Warriors held the Clip to 97.5 points per game, as Bogut made an impact on the defensive end, earning defensive ratings of 101 and 87 respectively. The Warriors earned ratings of 106.4 and 99.3. The Warrior defense was way better at home according to the numbers, none more crucial than the two wins.
So this could swing two ways. On one hand, this could mean that the Warriors are poised to improve on their defensive numbers from the first two games because they're a better defensive team at home. But on the other hand, this could mean trouble for the Warriors in the sense that they relied on Bogut, his size and his defensive efficiency to play well on the defensive end in Oakland. They won't have his size and defensive prowess on the inside this go around at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors must rely on the likes of David Lee, Jermaine O'Neal, and Marreese Speights to try and slow down both Griffin and Jordan down low. It will be interesting to see how the Warriors make adjustments as they head back home, but there's one adjustment they can't make: size.
Lee is 6'9", O'Neal is 6'11" (but higher in age and lacking jumping ability necessary to combat both Jordan and Griffin's jumping and rebounding abilities) and Speights is 6'10". Griffin stands 6'10", an inch shorter than O'Neal and the same height as Speights, but we're all aware of his unique jumping (over Kia's) abilities.
Jordan is 6'11" with the same outstanding jumping ability that allows him to play and rebound so high above the rim. Golden State's "best" chance at combating the likes of Jordan and Griffin may be a lineup with young but lengthy power forward Hilton Armstrong. His youth and size may prove helpful, but his youth may also be his downfall as he lacks experience equivalent to that of Griffin and Jordan.
I'm not sure that this is much of an answer, but we'll have to see what kind of lineup the Warriors look to roll out at home against the Clips. But to this point, Andrew Bogut's absence hasn't played much of a factor. Starting tonight with Game 3, we'll see if it proves to be, as the Warriors and Clippers both look to take control of this Western Conference matchup.