If Andrew Bogut can consistently achieve this season what he was able to achieve Tuesday night against Oklahoma City, he will invariably become the steal of the off-season in the NBA.
Acquired (along with a second-round pick) by the Dallas Mavericks in a trade with the Golden State Warriors on July 7 for a conditional second-round pick, Bogut is that veteran rim protector the Mavericks have been seeking since Tyson Chandler left in the summer of 2015 to sign a free agent contract with the Phoenix Suns.
The 7-foot center gave the Mavericks a sample of what he can accomplish when he contributed four points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks while only playing 17 first-half minutes against OKC.
“He’s a defensive force and he’s very smart,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Thursday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “It’s not only the blocks.
“But the two charges he took — those are positive turnovers in our favor and it’s one less time they get the ball and its one more time we get the ball. So those have a huge impact.”
Bogut likes to send not-so-subtle messages to opponents early in games.
“I think just bringing a paint presence defensively for us will be key for us,” Bogut said. “Just making sure when guys come in that paint, especially early in games, that I’m contesting a shot or blocking a shot or taking a charge, or fouling somebody.
“I think if teams get in the paint early and feel good about themselves it ends up being a long night.”
From Bogut’s perspective, if anyone is going to have a long night in the paint, it won’t be him.
“That’s what he’s going to bring to us — length, defense, his smarts,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “And he’s going to protect the paint for us.
“Offensively, he’s got to be one of the best passers in the game that we have on the big positions. He’s always trying to look for cutters and open shooters.”
Nowitzki, admittedly slow afoot when it comes to playing defense, knows the value of having someone with Bogut’s skills patrolling the middle of the defense. He saw it first-hand when Chandler helped the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA title.
“He’s going to be a factor,” Nowitzki said. “Like I said, he’s big, he’s physical, he’s a great low post defender.
“He’s going to anchor our defense and it’ll be great to have him behind us.”
An accomplished defender, Bogut led the NBA in blocks in 2011 while he played for the Milwaukee Bucks and was on the NBA All-Defensive second team in 2015 with the world champion Warriors.
The Mavericks face the Suns on the road Friday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
“He’s terrific and he has other unique abilities as well,” Carlisle said of Bogut. “He’s as good a play-making center as we have in our game right now and we’ve got to take advantage of that.
“When you get players with unique abilities you’ve got to put them in a position to use their strengths, and so we’re going to try to do that as best we can.”