Connect with us


What Cleveland adds with Andrew Bogut

In literature, there’s a term known as situational irony. Situational irony reflects circumstances where one outcome is expected, though an alternate outcome occurs. David Griffin embodies Situational Irony in human form. Griffin transformed what amounts to safety pins and chewed gum into arguably the league’s best backup point guard, Deron Williams, sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Andrew Bogut, holder of the League’s 3rd highest defensive +/-, and rejuvenated Derrick Williams’ career. Of course, LeBron James is someone to thank, but as 2003-2009 showed Cleveland, he can’t do it alone.

Cleveland’s full roster projects 13 active players deep, with even a roster missing two starters owning the East’s best record. Of these, Bogut’s signing is most impressive. Nabbing the Golden State castoff at discount, Bogut’s addition aids an ailing Kevin Love through roster diversity and additional rest.

Battered and whittled, Bogut represents both an immediate reprise as well as variety for an already thin frontline. Free agency saw Timofey Mozgov’s departure, while injury sidelined Kevin Love until playoffs. Before signing Derrick Williams, Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye were Cleveland’s only true big men. Even with Williams’ addition, only so many traditional lineup configurations exist. Eventually Lue would employ a smaller lineup, slotting a traditional small forward at the four. A situation best never employed until playoffs.

Small ball is the future. Golden State’s Big Man Draymond lineup, the Raptors’ now impossible Lowry/DeRozan/Ross trio, Boston’s Thomas/Bradley/Smart squad. Each of these pairings smoke opposing lineups. One imagines Kyrie/Smith/Shumpert/Korver/Williams, all tactful three point specialists, lighting up opponents. And while true, problems emerge when forcing these lineups during the regular season. Slotting LeBron or Jefferson at power forward further exacerbates Cleveland’s one true issue: rest. The power forward slot requires far more energy than small forward or point forward. Additionally chasing rebounds increases the likelihood of injury, a risk Cleveland can’t afford until desperate. Slotting LeBron at the four would only fuel usage critics’ fire. In Bogut, Cleveland found the problem’s perfect workaround.

Bogut carved his NBA role through categorical excellence. While not a superstar, 2005’s number one overall pick provides premier rim protection and court vision rivaling LeBron James. His offensive stumbles, in full vision during his Dallas tenure, vanish alongside elite scorers. Not only does Bogut fulfill frontcourt necessity, he requires almost no attention slotted into Cleveland offensive scheme. If anything Bogut’s passing skill, garnering legend Rick Carlisle’s praise, further amplifies the danger Cleveland’s elite wing shooters present. Bogut’s likely entrance to the starters’ ranks during Loves absence constructs a unique, yet familiar situation.

A LeBron-Love staple, Bogut could easily appropriate Love’s signature touchdown feed during his absence. Range isn’t an issue, neither would be repetitions; Bogut employed similar fast break schemes with the Warriors. However, Bogut’s offensive application regarding traditional sets differs from Love’s. Unlike Love, who’s three-point shooting pulls opponents away from the rim, the paint serves as Bogut’s range’s limit. Not necessarily an inhibitor, Bogut’s anchoring presences draws interior attention, freeing wing shooters to find their spots. Korver receives a perfect kickout pass, balks the defender and gets a free look Love’s paint presence simply doesn’t afford.

On the defensive end, Bogut plays an objectively different game. Love improved his defense this past year, responding well to Pick-and-Rolls, calling dribble handoffs and pressuring opposing matchups. Bogut will do none of that. Bogut answers Cleveland’s calls for a defensive big man. Thompson is undersized at 6’10, Frye’s lighter frame provides little when stopping a drive, and Love’s game is tailored towards offense. Bogut on the other hand provides steady contribution on the defensive end, averaging 1.6 blocks a game throughout his career. He weighs nearly 30 pounds more than Thompson, and stands an additional two inches over Thompson. To surmise, Bogut is a defensive anchor, shoring up Cleveland’s second largest need.

Love’s recovery timetable clears him to play slightly before the postseason, though Bogut’s addition could change this. Adding a versatile, albeit different, big relieves pressure regarding Love’s return. Rather Cleveland may opt into a slower recovery plan, rehabbing the All-Star for as long as possible. Additionally the forward position’s depth expands options regarding bringing Love off the bench. In essence, Bogut’s presence expands Lue’s options regarding rehabbing Love just as much as Korver’s acquisition eases J.R. Smith’s recovery pressure.

The nature of Bogut’s game forces shifts beyond simply providing Love reprise; as a true center, Bogut likely varies Channing Frye and Tristan Thompson’s sets. With limited range, and an injured Kevin Love, this acquisitions immediate beneficiary is Channing Frye. A renounced stretch forward, Frye compensates for the forward position’s lack of shooting. Frye’s experience as substitute Power Forward without Love’s presence legitimizes Frye’s Power Forward ability. Contrarily, Frye’s time at center likely sees a reduction, paving way for specialized defensive excellence.
Precedent regarding Thompson’s role already exists. A true center, Bogut excels in areas where Thompson encounters limitations. His height provides an advantage during opening tip. His weight helps bully teams with offenses dependent on their center, but Bogut isn’t perfect. Switching onto guards, capitalizing upon small-ball lineups, Thompson’s value isn’t understated. Instead, Lue may employ a similar tactic as he did with Mozgov, matchup specific starters. Through optimization, Lue’s starting lineup limits both Bogut and Thompson’s regular season playtime without sacrificing matchup advantages. Additionally, with Thompson likely playing starter throughout the playoffs, Bogut’s presence unburdens Thompson from major minutes during late season throwaway games just as Deron Williams does for Kyrie. Bogut, in this sense, is both Cleveland’s insurance policy as well as low post threat.

David Griffin is a wizard. That isn’t a metaphor. There simply doesn’t exist a timeline where Cleveland wins a championship without his crafty finagling and Bogut is just another puzzle piece in Griffin’s grand design. If Cleveland acquire his services (which according to two Mavericks insiders is likely), they shore up another need without giving away anything. Bogut scheduled meetings with several contenders over the next week, and unlikely scenarios occur where the Aussie big man takes his talents elsewhere. But if Griffin can ink Bogut to a contract, oh what a puzzle piece he would be.

Show comments
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Land