What will Bogut's return mean to Warriors?

What will Bogut's return mean to Warriors?
December 11, 2012, 10:00 am
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The key to the Warriors' biggest trade in years has played half as many minutes as Andris Biedrins. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Without speaking for Andrew Bogut, let me guess for you what he’s thinking right now.

“I hate my ankle. I hate my foot for making my ankle necessary. I hate watching my new team win without me. Well, not the winning part – the without-me part. And I wonder if when I come back if I’ll screw up the chemistry and make it worse. I mean, I came here to help build something, and the frame is being put up with me in civvies. This sucks.”

Yes, the Warriors are off to their best start in 42 years – 14-7, already a winning record on a seven-game road trip with three stops still to make. Wins over good teams, and wins over bad ones when the mind can easily wander. A devotion to defense that already puts this team in the top 10 in franchise history, and a toughness that has evaded this team (or being avoided by it) since the mid-70s.

Now it is the stated position of this squalid little corner of the Internet that this will be the last piece of bric-a-brac on the Warrior bandwagon. I respect history and basketball logic too much to leap to any conclusions based on the heaps of data that only 25.9 percent of the season can provide.

In other words, I will proclaim them a playoff team when there is an “X” in front of their name in the standings and not before. I am nothing if not stubborn.

But this is not about me, thank the gods, goddesses and godlings. This is about Bogut, and how hard it must be to watch. It would be hard for him to watch if they were 7-14, knowing he cannot help, but it is a different kind of Rubik’s cube knowing that repairs are being effected without him.

And it must be worse still not knowing what kind of alchemical changes will result from him returning to the lineup.

David Lee, who would be most affected by Bogut’s return, has never been better as a Warrior. Carl Landry, the undersized power forward, has been far more power than undersized. Jarrett Jack has provided a level of backcourt spine that has helped Stephen Curry realize a level of play closer to the top end of his potential.

And for all this, the best test might have been Saturday in Washington, against the uber-wretched Wizards. Coming off a tough and gratifying win in Brooklyn for coach Mark Jackson, playing before the fam and friends, they had every reason to lay a dozen eggs in Washington. And they nearly did, winning only 101-97, overcoming a shameful end mostly through tough-minded play that the Warriors have not exhibited in the lives of least a full generation of Warrior fans.

In other words, they are rolling in December as they have not rolled since Richard Nixon was President and Watergate was some made-up land in a science fiction paperback. And the key to their biggest trade in years has played one-tenth as many minutes as Klay Thompson, one-fifth as many as Festus Ezeli, and half as many as Andris Biedrins.

This may be the best way for the Warriors to do this, truth be told – for no explicable reason, and despite the run of logic. By surprise is the best way to win, and if they are doing it too quickly to keep the fan base grounded, they are also doing it in ways that make them almost more endearing.

In the meantime, Andrew Bogut sits and stews internally. He hates his ankle, and he hates his foot, and that won’t change until they stop acting up. But it isn’t the pain that hurts – it’s the not knowing whether he can add to the forming portrait, or change it for the worse while trying to make it better. Adding sometimes is subtracting and subtracting adding. And sometimes, Bogut knows and hopes, adding is just adding. Alchemy is unpredictable that way.

Just as much as ankles.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com