Bogut was a key factor in the Golden State Warriors’ most recent run of back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, but the Warriors elected to trade him before the beginning of this season in order to create cap room to sign Kevin Durant (understandable).
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While Bogut was not a part of the Warriors’ famous “Death Lineup,” he was still a starter and was the team’s most reliable interior defensive presence.
The Warriors decided to sign Zaza Pachulia as Bogut’s replacement, although he is not nearly the same caliber shot blocker that Bogut is.
With Kevin Love injured, the Cavs are significantly weaker at the forward/center position. Channing Frye is primarily a shooter and while Tristan Thompson is a monster on the boards and an excellent defender, he can’t play an entire 48-minute game with peak energy levels.
Insert Andrew Bogut.
Bogut is known for his shot-blocking ability and is also an underrated passer. He fits perfectly with a lineup where the Cavs want to go big.
He can anchor the defensive post and allow players such as LeBron James and Thompson to focus less on blocking shots and more on taking shots away from the other team.
Bogut can also use his 7-foot frame to set hard screens and allow one of the Cavaliers’ many shooters to pop open for an easy shot.
Jan 7, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) blocks out Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) in the first quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
A big man who can pass out of the post is somewhat of a hidden treasure, especially since the rise of Nikola Jokic, who can pass the ball more like a point guard than a 6-foot-11 center.
With the number of shooters that the Cavs have pieced around them, Bogut can pick and choose his passes knowing that whoever receives the ball, that guy has a great chance of knocking down a shot, much like the privilege he had in Golden State.
Bogut has had nagging injuries throughout his entire career and that has limited his playing time in crucial parts of the season, including the last two games of last year’s NBA Finals, which he missed (Bogut averaged 20.7 minutes per game last season with Golden State and was up to 22.4 minutes per game while in Dallas, according to Baskteball-Reference.com).
He will most likely play somewhere within the 15-20 minutes per game mark in Cleveland, which is all they need from him.
Without a player such as Bogut, who has tremendous size and a smooth feel for the game, the Cavs have been limited when playing against taller lineups. However, now the Cavs have free reign to use just about any lineup combination they want.
They can now go extra small, with LeBron at the 4 and Love/Thompson playing the 5. They can go all shooters with LeBron, Frye and Love. Now they can go extra big with LeBron, Thompson/Love, and Bogut.
With Bogut, there won’t be a situation where the Cavs feel they are going up against a lineup that they can’t compete with.
While Bogut may not be a huge benefot when a team such as the Warriors go with their small ball death lineup, he does gives the Cavs an advantage when the bench comes to play.
A bench lineup of Williams (who should be signed any day now), Iman Shumpert (who will come off the bench once J.R. Smith returns), Richard Jefferson, Frye and Bogut is something that other teams cannot replicate.
Plenty of veteran guys with playoff experience who know how to not lose games is incredibly vital, especially as the season winds down.
Put those five in a starting lineup in 2009 and you’ve got a playoff team.
Is signing Bogut going to push the Cavaliers ahead of the Warriors as title favorites?
The short answer is no, but he isn’t being brought in score a ton of points or lock down the opponent’s low-post threat, he is being brought to Cleveland to fill the one remaining weakness that the Cavs absolutely needed to fix if they wanted a more complete team, which is the low-post presence.