Injuries marred Bogut's time with Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Seven seasons, Squad Six, five playoff games. This was the career of Andrew Bogut in Milwaukee, where the 2005 No. 1 overall pick will be remembered as much for his contributions off the court -- starting the raucous fan group named for his jersey number -- as his on-court presence.
In a five-player deal reported by several media outlets Tuesday night, the Bucks sent Bogut and disgruntled swingman Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors for shooting guard Monta Ellis, forward/center Epke Udoh and the expiring contract of Kwame Brown.
For Bogut, it ends a bittersweet stretch with the team that passed on drafting Chris Paul and Deron Williams to bring the 7-foot Australian to Milwaukee. Though Bogut often has been labeled as injury-prone, his maladies – including the fractured ankle that has held him out since late January -- have been more the result of fluke situations than a lack of preparedness or a body that breaks down easily. This is no Greg Oden, taken two years later by Portland with the No. 1 overall pick only to play just 82 games in five years on crumbling knees.
In April 2010, with the Bucks less than two weeks from making the playoffs for the first time since Bogut's rookie season, the center suffered one of the most gruesome falls in NBA history. After catching a pass on a fast break and dunking the ball, he tried to hang on the rim to slow his momentum. Instead, he flung off the rim awkwardly and landed on his right side, breaking his hand, spraining his wrist and dislocating his elbow. The fall cost him an opportunity to join his teammates in Milwaukee's near-upset of the Atlanta Hawks in a seven-game first-round series.
During the 2010-11 season, Bogut admitted to not being 100 percent as he continued to recover from the injuries. His numbers declined as a result, dropping to 12.8 points per game on a career-low 49.5 percent shooting.
On Jan. 25 this season, Bogut -- finally healed from the 21-month-old arm injuries -- was running the court on a fast break, landed on an opponent's foot and fractured his left ankle. That injury could still end his season, and it turned out it ended his career with the Bucks.
Though Bogut was a model citizen who enjoyed the small market of Milwaukee and played at near-All-Star level when healthy, it was simply time for a change for the Bucks. The offseason acquisition of Jackson was supposed to give Milwaukee a third player – in addition to Bogut and point guard Brandon Jennings – who could score 20 points in any game. But with Bogut ailing and Jackson banished to the bench after running afoul of coach Scott Skiles, the opportunity to build on the team's recent surge to eighth place in the Eastern Conference apparently was too great for GM John Hammond to ignore.
Suddenly, the potential exists for the Bucks to have one of the league's most exciting backcourts. Ellis averages 21.9 points and is one of the quickest, most creative penetrators in the game. Jennings averages 19.1 points and has the same strengths.
However, with Ellis at 6-foot-3 and Jennings at 6-1, there will be questions on defense. And that begs an even more immediate query: Are the Bucks done trading with Thursday's deadline approaching?
Assuming they are, Ellis and Jennings could combine to lead the NBA in shot attempts from two guards on the same team. Ellis has been averaging 19.0 shots per game this season -- down from his previous two seasons above 20 -- and Jennings is at a career-high 17.1. At that rate, Ellis and Jennings would be taking nearly 43 percent of Milwaukee's shots.
Finally, don't discount Udoh's importance to the Bucks. He was the sixth overall pick by the Warriors in 2010, and though he isn't great offensively – averaging 5.5 points in 21.8 minutes this season -- he is Bogut-esque on the defensive end with 1.7 blocks per game. On a per-minute basis, Udoh has blocked more shots than Bogut throughout their careers.
There's no denying that if Bogut – still only 27 and one of the few true two-way centers in the league -- ever gets fully healthy, he could prove to be the best player involved in this trade. But right now, it's difficult to fault Hammond for exchanging two guys who weren't playing for a dynamic scorer and a shot blocker. On a team that has won four of five games and suddenly has playoff hopes, Ellis certainly seems like the healthy, exciting difference-maker the Bucks have been searching for.
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