The Bogut Factor: Predicting the Boomers' Rio rotation

The Australian Boomers are fine-tuning their preparations for the Rio Olympics, but some doubt still surrounds the rotation coach Andrej Lemanis and his staff will use at the Games.

The uncertainty rests on Andrew Bogut's health. Despite confirmation on the veteran Boomer's impending appearance in Rio, it remains highly unlikely that the big man will play in every game.

Bogut is only 6 weeks removed from a left knee bone bruise that was forecast as needing a 6-8 week recovery window. He played nine minutes in the Boomers' most recent exhibition win against China, but playing him in every Olympic outing looms as a risky decision that Lemanis shouldn't lean towards making.

Bogut’s health will play a major role in the Boomers' medal hopes. We saw how the Golden State Warriors lacked interior defense when Bogut went down in the NBA Finals. To say the Boomers would suffer the same deficiencies, would be an understatement.

A look at Bogut's potential front court partners

This thought has surely crossed Lemanis' mind multiple times: which other Australian big man would make the most effective pairing alongside Bogut?

Aron Baynes

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

The most likely candidate would be Aron Baynes. The imposing physicality of Baynes and Bogut would give the Boomers an intimidating rebounding and rim protecting duo.

Baynes’ presence could take the offensive load off Bogut’s shoulders. The Detroit big man was a major offensive option in the Boomers' exhibition games against the youthful Pac-12 All-Stars. While it's unlikely Baynes would average 23.5 points the same way he did in that two-game series, there should be potential for scoring opportunities off mid-range jumpers and finishes in the paint.

Subsequently, Bogut’s offensive role reverts to a simpler form. With Baynes getting more touches, Bogut will be able to focus on screening for the shooters and offensive rebounding, two of his strengths.

David Andersen

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

David Andersen is an offensive-minded big man who relieves Bogut's scoring onus, but in a different vein.

While Andersen works in the post on occasion, his major strength is his three-point shooting ability. The veteran Boomer gives Australia a legitimate long-range shooting weapon, and offers Bogut the space he needs to fight for offensive rebounds.

We might also see Bogut playing at the elbows to take full advantage of his passing ability, while Andersen thrives in the post. One thing Lemanis must avoid, is playing both Bogut and Andersen in the paint together, as it shrinks the floor and gives the Boomers minimal spacing for their shooters.

Brock Motum, Cameron Bairstow

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

Brock Motum has the potential to score both from deep and near the basket. He just doesn't do it consistently enough to justify Lemanis playing Motum and Bogut together for extended periods.

Like Motum, Cameron Bairstow hasn't proven himself to be a prolific scorer. Pairing him with the newly recovered Bogut in heavy minutes, forces an unnecessarily tough offensive burden on the newly signed Dallas Maverick. Bairstow isn’t tipped to feature prominently in Rio, but in limited minutes, will look to provide the Aussies with hustle and energy off the bench.

The front court without Bogut

If Bogut doesn’t play, the starting combination of Baynes and Motum seems more likely.

Lemanis has given Motum heavy minutes in the exhibition games; he has averaged 16.5 minutes over four games so far, the third highest among Australian big men.

Motum brings a level of energy and shooting to the Boomers squad. He has shown an ability to bring down offensive rebounds and shot 35.1 percent from three-point range with Zalgiris Kaunas last season. The three-point shooting however, is not something he has displayed in the warmup games so far.

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Motum's shooting opens the paint up, and will give Baynes the space he needs to roll to the basket in pick and roll scenarios.

Placing the sharpshooting Andersen on the court with Baynes will open up the lane even more. If the Boomers are searching for a scoring set of big men, this pairing seems to be the smartest option.

Finally, a two-man game of Motum and Andersen would be something Lemanis might be wise to stay away from. Neither of the two gives the Boomers a physical presence in the paint, allowing opposing big men an advantage underneath the basket.

Breaking down the wings

On the wings, Australia are well served by Joe Ingles and Ryan Broekhoff.

Ingles and Broekhoff's minutes should not be impacted by Bogut's court time, as Lemanis hasn’t shown any indication to play either man at the four or five position in NBA-style small ball lineups.

Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

Ingles will give the Boomers a little bit of everything, from three-point shooting, playmaking, slashing to perimeter defense, while Broekhoff will be brought off the bench to give the Boomers a lift with his proficient deep scoring and defensive abilities.

Both Ingles and Broekhoff are also solid rebounders, and can assist the big men in controlling the glass.

Predicting the guard rotation

Similarly, Bogut’s status will not affect the guard rotation.

It's very likely Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills will hold down the starting backcourt.

Credit: Nacho Amiconi

Dellavedova will bring his usual brand of boisterous defence and spirited hustle to the Boomers squad. Combined with Mills, who has proven he can score at the Olympic level after leading the London 2012 Games with 21.2 points per game, the Boomers should feel confident in giving the bulk of their backcourt minutes to an experienced NBA-level guard tandem.

Mills scored in double digits in every game he played during the Boomers' recent exhibition series in South America. While he struggled in shooting the ball efficiently at times during those games, there is no denying he will be the Australia's go-to scorer at the Olympics.

The newest Boomer of the team, Kevin Lisch has been Lemanis’ first guard off the bench in warm-up games and is sure to be a cool, calm and composed presence. Chris Goulding will earn playing time due to his ability to score, but the limited defensive efforts he has displayed in the warm-up games will make Lemanis hesitant to play Goulding for extended stretches. In limited minutes, Damian Martin should bring toughness to the court, but with Lisch and Goulding behind him, Martin doesn’t bring enough to the table to be anything more than an energy guy.

Regardless of how the rotation plays out, there's no denying Bogut's impact on the roster. He gives the Boomers a decisive edge on the front court; a menacing rim protector, offensive playmaker and rebounder all in one. His ability to anchor the team might decide our hopes for an Olympic medal this year.

Projected Boomers rotation (when Bogut is absent)

Starting:

PG: Matthew Dellavedova: 30-35 mins

SG: Patty Mills: 30-35 mins

SF: Joe Ingles: 30-35 mins

PF: Brock Motum: 25-30 mins

C: Aron Baynes: 30-35 mins

Bench:

Kevin Lisch: 20-25 mins

David Andersen: 20-25 mins

Ryan Broekhoff: 15-20 mins

Chris Goulding: 15-20 mins

Cam Bairstow: 10-15 mins

Damian Martin: 10-15 mins

Projected Boomers rotation (when Bogut plays)

Starting:

PG: Matthew Dellavedova: 30-35 mins

SG: Patty Mills: 30-35 mins

SF: Joe Ingles: 30-35 mins

PF: Aron Baynes: 30-35 mins

C: Andrew Bogut: 20-25 mins

Bench:

Kevin Lisch: 20-25 mins

Brock Motum: 20-25 mins

Ryan Broekhoff: 15-20 mins

Chris Goulding: 15-20 mins

David Andersen: 15-20 mins

Damian Martin: 10-15 mins

Cam Bairstow: 10-15 mins