Tag Archives: Stan Van Gundy

Is 2011 the year Andrew Bogut finally makes the NBA All-Star team?

Last year he was snubbed.  First by the Eastern conference coaches, some of them anyway, content to name Hawks big forward Al Horford as the East’s reserve center.  Then Commissioner David Stern took his turn, choosing the Knicks’ David Lee over Bogut to replace injured Kevin Garnett, a nod to New York the media market as much as it was to Lee’s scoring and rebounding numbers.

Milwaukee’s just too damn small.  If Bogut was outplaying Lee and scoring 22 on a Friday night in November, nobody noticed.   If All-Star is about winning, the Knicks hadn’t, and still haven’t taken a game against the Bucks since March of 2009.

The Bucks did win — 30 of their last 43 games last season and a run to a seven-game series against the Hawks.  They were 40-29 with Bogut in the lineup in 2010, before his horrific fall last March, resulting in a broken, mangled arm and the end of Bogut’s best season as a pro.

The scoring was there, above average if not All-Star:  15.9 pts per game on 52 % shooting.

The defense, for those who care about defense, was superlative.  Bogut last season led the NBA in Defensive Plays, with 3.82 blocked shots, steals and charges taken per game.  He was second to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard in blocked shots (2.5 per game) and Defensive Rating (98.1 team points allowed per 100 possessions).

Add 10.2 rebounds and it was good enough for the All-NBA 3rd Team.

This season, Bogut again leads the NBA in Defensive Plays with a low estimate of 3.7 per game (the charges taken not accounted for), leads the NBA in shot blocking (2.8 bpg) and is 6th in Defensive Rating.  Is it enough to get him to the All-Star game?

His 13.4 points per game say “no” — but his 11.7 rebounds per game (5th in the NBA) say, “yes.”

But those are merely the stats.  Bogut is not only the anchor of the Bucks defense but the heart and soul of a team that has in 2011 been ravaged by injuries while playing the most difficult schedule in the NBA, based on opponent record.   They’ve won 19, lost 27 but are just a half game out of a playoff spot in the East and closing, looking up at teams that have played much softer schedules.  Bogut is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.


As the NBA reached the late January halfway mark and prepared to unveil the 2011 All-Star starters, the Bucks turned in a horrendous 2nd quarter in Chicago, were never really in the game afterward and found themselves at their lowest point, a 16-26 record, 13.5 games behind the Bulls.  They desperately needed to make a statement that their 2011 season wasn’t over, and they made it the following night in Milwaukee, beating the Atlanta Hawks, 98-90.

There were no earth shattering, SportsCenter highlight dunks from Bogut in the victory, but he hauled in 14 rebounds and took a charge and blocked a shot that turned the momentum the Bucks way at the end of the second quarter.  In the 4th, when the game was on the line, the Bucks limited the Hawks to 1 for 14 shooting for 9 minutes and held them to 15 points in the quarter.  The 2nd quarter block and ensuing fast break would find its place on the NBA highlight reels for the week, a fitting statement for the defense-first season Bogut has had.

Defense wins games, and a center’s job is to anchor the defense and control the traffic in the paint.  Among NBA centers, Bogut has only defensive rival:  the Magic’s Howard, of course, perennial All-Star and the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year.  Honors aside, Howard and Bogut have a lot in common:  They are true centers in a league that has drifted to the 3-point line, and they are established defensive forces on the basketball court.

Unfortunately, the matter of “what’s a center?” is not resolved in the All-Star selection system.  Horford and other “centers” such as Lee, Andrea Bargnani and Marcus Camby, log most of their minutes at power forward, especially when matched up against a Bogut or Howard.  The coaches must name one reserve center on the conference All-Star teams, and, as evidenced by last season’s vote for Horford, the reserve center doesn’t have to be a full time center.

“[Bogut]’s probably more of a true center than a lot of the other guys that people have talked about at that position,” said Howard’s coach, Stan Van Gundy, last season after Bogut was snubbed.  “Most of them are power forwards playing up a position, while he’s like Dwight, more of a true center.  I don’t think there’s any question he’s an all-star caliber guy. But when you’re picking 24 guys out of 400 in the league, it gets difficult.”

There is competition for the East’s All-Star reserve spot.  Shaquille O’Neal, still “The Diesel” in limited minutes for the East-leading Celtics, was second in fan voting, due largely to both the largess of Shaq and the Celtics’ East-leading record.  Bulls center Joakim Noah, third in the fan voting, was off to a strong start with the Bulls before a broken hand sidelined him until after the All-Star break.

Roy Hibbert was scoring 16 points per game for the Pacers early in the season but has tapered off.  Brook Lopez of the Nets is scoring 18+ points per game, but the Nets are losing and Lopez can’t seem to grab a rebound (only 6 per game, half of Bogut and Howard’s haul).  The Raptors Andrea Bargnani scores 21.4 pts per game but spends an awful lot of time far outside the paint — he’s actually list in most places as a forward.

That leaves Bogut, 4th in fan voting, his scoring down (12.9 ppg) this season as he slowly makes his way back to 100% after last season’s injury.  Bogut, whose Bucks aren’t winning as much as most preseason prognosticators had predicted.  Bogut, the 3rd Team All-NBA center after last season, the 11th leading vote getter in the All-NBA balloting.

Bogut, leading the league in blocked shots and Defensive Plays, and one of the league’s top 5 rebounders.  Howard, of course, is top 5 in those categories, and is an All-Star.  He’ll start the 2011 game at center.

Not to say that Horford does not deserve All-Star recognition (he does, moreso than any other Hawk), but Horford is not in the top 10 in any of those categories.  But then, Al Horford is not a center.

In the NBA, circa 2011, Andrew Bogut is a center.  As a center plying his trade in the Eastern Conference, he’s earned the honor of backing up Dwight Howard at the 2011 All-Star game.

Bogut ranked #2 in Ball Don’t Lie center ratings

Defense matters in the NBA.  When it comes to the best big men in the world, there is Dwight Howard and then there is Bucks center Andrew BogutBall Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer — one of most dogged NBA junkies in the blogosphere — concurs.

Bucks fans have seen Bogut improve every year in the face of a couple of broken noses, a smashed kneecap, a bashed upper thigh and a troublesome lower back.  The rest of the NBA finally took notice last February as Bogues — healthy at last — anchored coach Scott Skiles’ tenacious, turnover machine defense and at age 25 seized the mantle of leadership, lifting his Bucks out of the abyss of the Michael Redd era and reenergizing a fan base that had been dormant since the trade of Ray Allen in 2003.

No, Bogut didn’t make the 2010 All-Star team but everybody from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to the TNT’s Round Mound of opinion, Charles Barkley, went on record saying he should have — and would have had the Eastern Conference coaches been able to recast their ballots a couple of weeks after the voting deadline.  At season’s end, Bogut was voted 3rd team All-Pro by the league’s media, just missing the 2nd team with the 11th highest overall vote total.

Dwyer, at heart a Bulls fan and a bonafide Scott Skiles expert, tends to pay more attention to the Bucks than most NBA geeks, and his meta-awareness of the game’s sometimes unmeasurable intangibles is unrivaled.  Here’s his take on Bogut:

That’s right. The man who I think is the second-best center in the NBA didn’t even make the All-Star team last season.

This isn’t me trying to be obscure — Bogut was a No. 1 overall pick fercryin’outloud. It’s just the end result of seeing this guy work expertly on either end of the court last season. Bogut was an at-times dominant defender on par with Dwight Howard, especially when Howard started 2009-10 slow. And Bogut’s versatile offensive game still isn’t being taken advantage enough by his Bucks teammates.

All he does is do everything well, save for the odd trip to the free-throw line. And because he turns 26 just a month into the season and so many other bigs are either playing out of position, coming back from injury or starting to put it all together, I think Bogut establishes himself as a clear No. 2 in 2010-11. To those that pay attention to defense, at least.

As for Dwyer’s Top 11, I’ve gotta take issue with Hawks big man Al Horford‘s #4 ranking, and I think it’s fair to say that the Lakers Pau Gasol plays as much center as teammate Andrew Bynum (#5), given Bynum’s ever-nagging knee problems.  Spurs Hall-of-Famer-to-be Tim Duncan plays center most of the time, too, it should be noted, and deserves to be in the Top 5, nevermind the Spurs’ insistence on listing Duncan as a forward, which they’ve continued to do since David Robinson retired in 2003.  Duncan’s the Spurs center.

Ranking Brook Lopez  # 3 seems to beg a “what has Lopez accomplished?” question, and wouldn’t a lot of teams take Joakim Noah’s defense and rebounding over Lopez’s sometimes uninspired D?  No way is Lopez the #3 center in the league but I realize that Dwyer was giving a nod to Lopez’s offensive game and that youth weighed in KD was balancing his criteria.

I could quibble all day into next season about rankings 3-11 (that’s what we obnoxious and insufferable NBA blogo-junkies do).  But the spot that Dwyer nailed was the one that mattered most and is most contentious among NBA faithful who care about center play — #2 behind Howard.  Bogut earned it last season and will have to fight to defend it through the coming season as guys like Lopez, Bynum, Noah, Greg Oden and Marc Gasol continue to improve and they all try to stay as healthy as the freakishly fit Dwight from another planet.  I can’t wait.

And damn you Dwyer for getting your center rankings done before I even started mine.

NBA All-Stars: Indeed, Andrew Bogut was snubbed

As many Bucks fans are aware, Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford was named to the NBA East All-Star team in a vote of the East coaches. It is generally understood that this occurred because fantasy ball favorite David Lee’s Knicks can’t beat anybody and because Andrew Bogut’s ever-improving Bucks are still a few wins and maybe a whole lot else away from being taken seriously.

The Bucks don’t win enough, in other words. Or is it because Bogut has not been healthy enough in the last two seasons?

Or because Bogut’s own coach, Scott Skiles, is so critical of his center that he won’t advocate that Bogut should be an All-Star — not even to say that his center was snubbed?

Or because GM John Hammond’s mixed direction with the Bucks has undermined the success of both the team and its 25-year-old center?

Or is it because the Bucks media department didn’t seem to remember that the NBA holds an annual February event, something to do with “All-Stars” and that it might be a good idea to generate a campaign for the team’s center? The Charlotte Bobcats had a classroom or three of kids writing letters to East coaches on behalf of forward Gerald Wallace, an East reserve. The Cavaliers campaign on behalf of Mo Williams last season bordered on the ridiculous.

Or is it because so few in and around the NBA pay attention to the Milwaukee Bucks or Andrew Bogut, even when he’s scoring 32 points in wins vs. the Raptors?

So many questions, and probably too many missed games (due to injury) in the last 100 for the Bucks center.  But moving to the present …

Bogut should be an All-Star. The Bucks haven’t won … yet. But they’re beginning to and have won four of six since returning from the 6-game trip West. Under Skiles and with their “young money” point guard — with Bogut increasingly in the role of offensive centerpiece — and a few young, tough, talented forwards, the Bucks are moving in the right direction. Yes, they’re still a terrible road team (5-18) until further notice, but then, the Hawks (11-11) are very beatable on the road, too.

Enuff said about the Hawks’ Horford or Lee from the Knicks or the Bulls Joakim Noah (Luol Deng is the more deserving Bull) — or any other East center other than Dwight Howard currently being touted ahead of AB. It is not as though these players (other than Howard) routinely outplay the Bucks center — in fact quite the opposite is true, as Bogut has proven in the head-to-head matchups.

And now Howard’s coach in Orlando, Stan Van Gundy, says Bogut is not only All-Star caliber but that he’s more of a true center than most of those other guys.

So it’s time now to do what I sometimes do in my spare time: spend some time on basketball-reference.com. In this exercise we’ll see how Bogut has done against his rivals in the East.

Here are Bogut’s game logs from this season (note the performances in the Knicks and the three Bulls games (Bucks are 2-1 vs. the Bulls).

Bogut’s gamelogs from last season. Note the lone Atlanta game Bogut played in, his last of the season, a Bucks win at the BC inspired off-the-bench by Bogut. AB”s 9 points, 6 rebs — plus 2 blocks and 2 steals — in 16 mins should have made a believer out of Hawks coach Mike Woodson.

Gamelogs from the 2007-08 season. Neither Horford or Bogut were as good as they are now, which calls the relevance of these games into question — but the outcome of that matchup makes for interesting fodder. The Bucks with Bogut in the lineup are 3-2 against the Hawks over the last three seasons with four to play this season.

While we’re at it, let’s take a peek at the NBA shot-blocking leader board. (Actually, the linked sheet shows all NBA categories). Bogut is 4th in blocks per game and in the top 10 in total blocks despite missing six games. He’s also on a number of rebounding stat boards and ranks 9th in Defensive rating. Note that it’s not Horford on these defensive lists with Bogues, but Horford’s teammate Josh Smith, who, like Bogut, should be going to Dallas.

The Bucks are the 9th rated defensive team in the league, a big improvement over last season when they fell out of the top 15 after Bogut’s back injury.

The case for Bogut representing the East in Dallas is strong, made stronger by recent Bucks wins against the Raptors, Sixers and the Heat. Maybe some of those wins came too late for Bogut’s All-star campaign. And maybe it’s just time to watch the highlights from Saturday and be glad the Bucks are getting in the W column.

Here’s a thing: Due to changes at the Journal Sentinel, I have to build a new home for this blog. Lucky us, the domain name Bob Boozer Jinx was still available. Imagine that. Well, it’s mine now and I’ll be migrating things over there in the coming weeks.

As you can see, we’ve been quite busy around here this week.