Aussies in NBA: Rio serves as preview for Bogut's Dallas debut
You might remember me as the guy who got super excited upon hearing Andrew Bogut would be joining the Dallas Mavericks. And while the Boomers ultimately didn't manage to come home with a medal, Bogut was spectacular in Rio, so you can just imagine how much more pumped I am right now about seeing him in Mavs blue.
This move, a solid one on paper from the beginning, now looks like a match made in heaven. The veteran big man was nothing short of amazing in Rio, finishing with averages of 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists (tops among centres), and 1.4 blocks, along with 76.3% shooting. Oh, and a cheeky 100% from 3-point land:
Bogut for 3!??!?! pic.twitter.com/DZPOcIA1ot
— Zach Bennett (@ZacharyBD) August 8, 2016
Some of that Splash Brothers mojo must've rubbed off. He did it last season too.
What adds to the excitement for Mavericks fans is all the talk that's gone around regarding him being in Dallas. It all started with Mark Cuban, not particularly enthused with the idea of NBA players participating in the Olympics, throwing his support behind Bogut's bid to return from injury to rejoin his national teammates.
"We obviously were nervous and I'm still not a fan of NBA players in the Olympics, but Andrew was going to have to go through a process to get back on the court anyway," Cuban told The Associated Press. "Our staff has communicated with him and we knew he would be cautious in his approach to returning. I'll be watching and cheering him on."
All very supportive and encouraging. There's even been some banter between the two.
That's as good a way to start a new job, isn't it? Getting into your boss' good books. You know what else is? Getting into your new coach's good books.
“I am excited. I think Dallas is a world class organisation, just the communication I have had so far has been unbelievably different with what I have had in the past,” Bogut said.
“I know they treat their players well, they are always competitive in the West, and it will be good.
“Rick Carlisle is a sensational head coach and I am looking forward to getting things back on track to where they were, before being more of a role player.”
The feeling with Carlisle is mutual, who has been quoted to be looking forward to meeting his new starting center. Not only that, but Bogut's myriad of abilities at both ends of the floor opens up many new options for Carlisle to play with.
“I think we can be a better defensive team, because of Bogut, and I think we’ll be a more physical defensive team from top to bottom. And then it’s going to come down to style,” he said to ESPN Dallas.
All of this positive talk is just the beginning of what could be a renaissance period in the Aussie big man's career. On the Golden State Warriors, Bogut was a distant fifth option on offense. Not at all an insult, especially since he usually was on the floor alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but them's the facts. He never averaged more than 7.3 points in a season for the Dubs. His minutes decreased as Golden State unearthed the Death Lineup which features Green at the 5 spot.
That's all going to change in the Big D.
This is a Mavs team short on playmakers, historically-starved of rampaging rim-rollers and you-shall-not-pass paint protection (oh Tyson Chandler, how we miss thee despite your constant bellyaching), still trying to piece together a contender amidst significant roster churn, year-on-year. Bogut's arrival doesn't automatically cure all that's ailing Dallas, but his play in Rio certainly promises to remove many of the symptoms.
And therein lies the beauty of him making it back from injury to represent the Boomers: his starring role in the Olympics has given us all, me included, a timely reminder of just how much he can actually do for a team.
With the Dubs, Bogey was asked to do no more than protect the paint, set brick wall screens, and finish the occasional alley-oop. Him taking on this low-key role in the pursuit of greater team success has led to us forgetting.
We're forgetting that we're talking about a former number one pick. We're forgetting that we're talking about someone who was a legitimate franchise player for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Stepping up to be an important cog in the Mavs machine, at both ends of the court, is going to bring out a version of Bogut we haven't seen in a long time. He won't need to carry the team, so he won't be overloaded, but his job description is now several pages longer than it was with Golden State. You can bet Carlisle is going to make the most of Bogues' ability to powerfully finish at the rim and his always highlight-worthy passing chops.
Combine this unprecedented passing ability from the 5-spot with Dirk Nowitzki's one-man Gravitron talents, and we could have an unorthodox yet oddly-effective offense on our hands. The Olympics may have been the perfect tonic for Bogut's disappointment at losing the Finals, and it has provided the perfect tee-up to his Mavericks career.
“Mentally and physically, it was good to have another goal straight away,” Bogut said. “[The injury] was a freak play, like most of my injuries. It was frustrating, the way the whole thing played out. It wasn’t great. But it happened. The reason why we’re professional athletes and there’s all these big contracts is because we have to deal with that, we have to suck it up and move on. Move on to the next thing, and that’s the Olympics.”
We've all forgotten what Andrew Bogut can do. But, holy crap, is he going to remind us in a big way.