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Aussies in NBA: Bogey explains his 'very solid' screens, Dubs' focus on basics
It has been an eventful and successful season for the Golden State Warriors and Andrew Bogut so far, and he recently added to the list of highlights by joining Bill Simmons on his podcast, becoming the first Australian to do so. Their chat covered a variety of topics, from how the Warriors became the passing machine they are today, to Ben Simmons' chances of going to Rio with the Boomers.
One of the first topics on the agenda was Bogut's screens. Besides becoming increasingly infamous for their, shall we say, 'solidity' --cue Australia's own Leigh Ellis drawling, "and this is what we call, a very solid play"-- there's more to them than first meets the eye. Bogey revealed the thought process behind his screen-setting.
"It's all about spacing. I just try to make sure that when I hit my guy, I don’t give up that screen until he actually has to run all the way around me. A lot of guys will screen and then slip out of it and roll; I’ll actually hit the guy and then just make sure he has to take the alternate route." Bogut explained.
This makes a ton of sense when you've got two of the best shooters in the league on your team; the extra half second a good screen provides could be all it takes to guarantee a splash.
Holding his screens that little bit longer is a sign of unselfishness on Bogey's part, as this reduces his own number of chances at the rim (fewer rolls leads to fewer shots at the rim). This team-first mentality is one everyone associates with the Dubs nowadays, most noticeably in their constant passing and movement. With the Warriors, this unselfish mindset started from the top with coach Steve Kerr, who put an emphasis on the fundamentals right from the beginning of his tenure as Golden State coach.
“The first training camp we had under coach Kerr, we were doing basic passing drills. Left hand passes, right hand, overhead, and doing dribbling drills through cones. A lot of guys were pissed, 'cos they were like ‘hey, we’re NBA guys.’" Bogues said.
"But coach Kerr was [saying], ‘no, we’re going back to basics. You guys turn the ball over way too much. If we can turn it over 4 to 5 times less a game, we’re gonna win a championship.’ After a couple weeks, I think guys understood what he was trying to relay on to us and it was genius in a way."
I guess we can add clairvoyance to Kerr's stellar resume.
All this stems from Steve Kerr's time as part of the all-conquering Michael Jordan Bulls of the 90's. Tex Winter's triangle offense looks like an antiquated relic practiced only semi-coherently by the New York Knicks nowadays, but its emphasis on fundamentals influences the Warriors' devastating style too.
"Tex, he was huge on the fundamentals of the game, the basic plays, things that are very important to our team's success," Dubs assistant coach Luke Walton explained to VICE Sports during last season's Finals. "Obviously, we play a flashy brand of basketball, but we work on Tex's basic drills. Steve and I get these guys to do them every single day in practice."
You would think that, being well and truly in the new age of pace and space, passing and movement would be the norm now. However, Golden State's approach is still highly impressive, even to those in the game.
"[New signing Anderson Varejao] looked at me and he was like ‘man, this is so different to where I was, you guys move the ball so well, passing up a good shot to get a great shot.’ And it hits you; this is normal to us but for someone from the outside looking in or on a different team, it's like 'how are these guys doing it?'"
While talking about the other Boomers in the NBA, Bill Simmons raised an interesting thought: what if the Dubs tried to bring Matthew Dellavedova on board?
"That might be easier said than done. He’s got some enemies in our locker room." Bogey replied. Hmm, wonder who that could be?
Bogues has no problem with his Boomers teammate though.
"I respect Delly, he plays hard. People think he’s dirty but he’s actually a great fella and we get along really well," Bogut shared. "He plays physical on the court but obviously when you play a team in the Finals, with all the pressure and emotion and all the stuff that goes on, it leaves both sides with a sour taste in their mouth.”
If there's one thing our Aussies in the NBA are known for, it's their hustle and hard work. So it's no surprise to see Bogey backing up Delly on this.
[Oozing sarcasm] "Sensational, isn’t it.” - in reference to the recent dirty players 'report'
“They’ve started with the Portuguese already. We need some subtitles to understand what they’re saying.” - on Anderson Varejao joining his Brazilian comrade Leandro Barbosa in Oakland
“Just trying to be physical and hit guys. Guys don’t like it. I know guys don’t like playing against me but I, uh, really don’t care.” - on setting hard screens
Andrew Bogut interview with Bill Simmons