Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut breaks through to the other side

If the 2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks season proved anything, it’s that Andrew Bogut has figured out how to be an NBA center.

How’s that for a rose-colored view of a 36-win team?

In all seriousness, Andrew Bogut followed up his best offensive season with his best defensive season, only he managed to do the latter with severe limitations to his shooting arm.

The 2009-10 Andrew Bogut recorded career highs in multiple offensive categories, including usage (23.24), points (15.9), double-doubles (37 in 69 games), shot makes and attempts (6.9-13.2), player efficiency rating (20.66), And 1 percentage of shot attempts (3.9%) and free throw shooting percentage (62.9%).

Bogut was shooting hook shots and quick release lobs (a career high 2.6-6 shots between 3-9 feet) and throwing down dunks, layups, and put backs with more authority and confidence than he had in his previous four NBA seasons. Then came the fall that will live in YouTube infamy for Milwaukee Bucks seasons to come.

Every one of those statistics mentioned above plunged significantly in 2010-11, due to Bogut’s barely functioning shooting arm and day-to-day viral infection. Bogut even put up career low numbers in free throw shooting percentage (44.2%) and And 1 percentage of shot attempts (2%).

The 2010-11 Andrew Bogut was, for lack of an appropriate word, mostly useless on offense. He had 24 double-doubles in 65 games, but shot 49.5% within a center’s range of the basket and produced a four point drop in PER to 16.70. However, Bogut did put together his best defensive season to date, posting career high numbers in blocks (2.6) and rebounds (11.1), and increasing his rebounding rate to 18.2.

It’s rare to see an NBA player accept his severe physical limitations and allocate his efforts on improving another part of his game. Andrew Bogut was the only person that truly understood what he could and couldn’t do five months removed from a surgically repaired shooting arm, and he responded with a defensive season that rivaled only Dwight Howard in its influence over opposing offenses.

Whether Andrew Bogut is affecting a game on one end of the court or the other, it’s clear that the Bucks win games when he is contributing at a high level.

When Bogut averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds (a reasonable expectation), the 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks compiled a 23-7 record. Bogut posted those numbers a mere 15 times this past season (the Bucks went 9-6), despite playing 3.1 more minutes per game. A drop in winning percentage from .767 to .600 may not seem like a lot, but that’s the difference between 62 and 49 wins over the course of a season.

Much like a pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery, the second season afterwards should be much improved for Andrew Bogut. Nothing is a guarantee, especially for a big man who has a history of knee and back injuries. But Bogut has built up enough success over the past two years, healthy or not, to warrant the expectation that he’ll finally put it all together once the 2011-12 NBA season begins.

 

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