NEWARK — From a mental standpoint, it would’ve been easy for Warriors center Andrew Bogut to wave the white flag earlier this season.
After all, the 7-foot, 260-pounder played only 12 of the team’s first 54 games because of left ankle surgery, and he missed an additional six games at the end of February due to back spasms. For a while, it seemed like Bogut would never be healthy enough to play significant minutes and help the Warriors (42-32) in their playoff push. However, Bogut has clearly proven to be a different player in the last month as his health has improved.
“I feel like I’m moving well, jumping around well, just knowing how I’m moving and how the ankle is reacting,” said Bogut, who made an appearance at Newark’s Silliman Center on Tuesday to answer questions, take pictures and sign autographs for 75 kids involved in the Warriors basketball camp. “It’s been such a big injury that mentally, it just drains you man just constantly thinking about your ankle. It just wasn’t getting better for a long, long time, and now that I’m past that phase, I’m getting my confidence back.”
Slowly but surely, Bogut is showing glimpses of the form that made him an All-NBA third-team selection in the 2009-10 season. In the past 10 games, Bogut is averaging 7.2 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. More importantly, he’s been the anchor for a Warriors team that has seemed to regain its defensive mojo.
“When we miss shots, we tend to kind of forget about defense and not give as much effort, but I think we’ve been more consistent on defense lately,” Bogut said.
When the Warriors traded for Bogut, they envisioned getting a difference-maker who could affect the outcome of a game on both the offensive and defensive end. The Warriors are 9-5 since Bogut returned to the lineup on March 4, and he’s played in 14 consecutive games — by far his longest stretch of the season. Even though Bogut has endured countless setbacks this season, he’s hoping the worst of it is behind him.
“Things are much better now, just being able to play a string of games and getting my body to where it needs to be,” Bogut said. “It’s been a long process for me, and I’m still not all the way back. But I’m feeling much better now than I was a month or two ago.”
The Warriors, who are currently the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed, play the New Orleans Hornets at 7:30 p.m. today at Oracle Arena.
Warriors vs. Hornets