Aussies in NBA: Preseason Bogut is exactly what we expected

My Dallas Mavericks didn't have the greatest of preseasons. Finishing 2-5 and being dealt a 26-point mullering in the finale against the Denver Nuggets wasn't quite what Mavs fans were hoping for, to say the least.

That said, preseason is preseason, and W-L records don't matter too much. In fact, we finished 0-7 last year, and I think we had a decent 2015-16. The important things are building cohesion and chemistry, especially for new additions, and getting rusty players back up to speed in preparation for the new season. All of which pertain to one Andrew Bogut, adjusting to his new role as starting center of Dallas.

With Rick Carlisle wont to ease his old(-ish) and injury prone (no need for '-ish' here) starting lineup into proceedings, this preseason felt more like an extended audition for the fringe players to make a case to make the final roster. We didn't see much of the starters, save for Harrison Barnes (who really hasn't looked too good), and Bogey himself didn't play till the third game, eventually finishing with five games under his belt. He still showed us some stuff though.

Away from the extraordinary talents of the Splash Brothers and Draymond Green, here's three things we learned about good ol' Bogues:

1) Assists, Assists, Assists

In five games, Bogut averaged 2.6 assists, topping off at 4 in the game against the Phoenix Suns. It's a small sample size, but it's still a tad bit more than he averaged last season, so we can expect him to continue his dime-dropping ways, even in the absence of the otherworldly shooting he's grown used to being around the past few years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptyQoGEHEIY

It appears Coach Carlisle is also a big fan of the blind pig play, as it's made an appearance already:

https://twitter.com/80GradeWhitt/status/786008216698286080?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Bogut figures to be an important cog in the Mavs' offense this year, given his unique skill set for a big man. He's definitely getting touches, not being forgotten on that end of the court like just about every other defensive big man in the league. He might not score a bunch, but expect his assist numbers to remain consistently good throughout the year. Rick and Dirk certainly do.

2) Defense, Defense, Defense

Once again, something we all expect Bogut to bring to the Mavs this season. Rim protection is the first thing that comes to mind, and that's certainly been present this preseason, with him averaging 1.4 blocks.

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But it's not just that. He's been pretty good with his hands as well, tallying 3 steals so far.

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Dallas has some real defensive potential this season, what with Barnes, the emergence of Justin Anderson, and the (hopeful) full recovery of Wesley Matthews, and Bogey looks to be a big part of that as well. It's what we all expected, it's what he's spoken specifically about, and the signs look encouraging so far.

3) Fewer Alley-oop Jams

The alley-oop finish became such a staple of Bogues' offensive output with the Golden State Warriors that most of us think that that's how he got all of his points while playing for them. Well, if preseason is anything to go by, that number is going to take a tumble.

Bogut hasn't scored a ton so far, which is understandable given the role he plays nowadays, but one thing to note is how he's been putting up those points. Against the Rockets, he got his three made field goals by catching deep paint passes for easy layups (twice) and putting back an offensive board.

Then, against the Nuggets, we were transported back in time, watching him take his defender on the block and scoring all of his 4 points with hook shots by using the ancient art known as 'backing his man down in the post'.

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I suppose it makes sense. With Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews nowhere near as dynamic as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and with perhaps the only player capable of consistently driving into the paint and doing damage being the tiny hobbit known as J.J. Barea, there's just not going to be as much space for Bogut to roam and rise for the easy cram. So I'm sure we'll still see Bogut flying like a majestic eagle and dumping on fools, but it just won't happen as often as it did with the Warriors.

So far, so good. I'm happy with Bogut's performances thus far, and am more concerned with the rest of the starting lineup stepping up their play in time for the new season. That in itself should help Bogey as well, as he's more an elite complimentary player than someone who makes things happen on his own anyway, so their improvements should lead to him putting up better numbers as well.

The Dallas Mavericks' first game of the season will be against the Indiana Pacers on 26th October, where Bogey might get some time taking on low-post offensive genius Al Jefferson.

The wait is almost over!