Reason for break out: Convinced himself that he does not have to be Darko 2.0 and is playing like it
Forecast: Eastern All-Star reserve Center for the next 2 – 4 seasons. Count on it.
In 2005, Andrew Bogut was the consensus number 1 pick out of Utah. And while he’s been a nice player, he’s clearly not lived up to the Dream Team level talents of Chris Paul and Deron Williams (pg’s picked 3rd and 4th in the same draft). And somehow, people are ok with that. It seems like after a few seasons, if a player doesn’t improve, people label them a bust or they’re moved into a secondary role and life goes on. This could have easily happened to Bogut. He struggled with the NBA game all the way up until this season, he has a history of back and migraine issues, and he even caused some controversy during international play (Dude’s an Aussie) where he had some awkward quotes about his NBA American teammates. Even more dangerous than all of these, he could have fallen into Darko mode. Now Darko mode is a increasingly more frequent condition that befalls high lottery picks (mostly but not exclusively foreigners and white players) who don’t perform as they think they should. Whether it’s playing time, lack of talent, success of players also drafted in the lottery that year, players who fall into Darko mode can generally be spotted by players growing attention grabbing facial hair, being seen doing derogatory things at the hands of teammates and being openly bitter about it, or having placid, glazed over looks on their faces as they ride the pine.
Bogut was a perfect candidate to fall into Darko mode. He’s white. He can grow an insatiable beard. He couldn’t really play when he first got into the league. There were superstars drafted after him. But Bogut has done something the others usually don’t. He got better. Have you seen the Bucks play lately? Bogut’s a beast! He’s a legit 7’0″, 265 lbs. He boards like someone his size should. He uses his body well in the post. He doesn’t shoot 3′s. He’s your pro-typical center. He’s amazing. And while you may think I’m gushing, his numbers for the past month are 18 and almost 11. His numbers on the year are 16 and 10. He’s figuring it out and he knows it. So yes, people watch the Bucks because of Brandon Jennings, but make no mistake, Bogut is the franchise.
Now, humor me. Say you’re starting an NBA team today and you have to pick a center (not counting all the superstar power forwards right now). Even if you’re Andrew Bogut’s mother, you’re taking Dwight Howard with the 1st pick. But if you have the 2nd pick, who are you going with? Andrew Bynum? One of the brothers Gasol? An arguement can be made for Brook Lopez for sure, but my boy Bogut is right there with these guys. Throw in the fact he’s only 25, has a hilarious sense of humor (youtube the video of him giving himself high fives when his teammates leave him hanging), and has single handly carried the Bucks to the 5th spot (as of today) in the Eastern conference standings (ok, Jennings has helped but he’s not that great. Salmons has been an awesome pick up) and we have a Center on the come up.
All Star for the next 2 – 4 years. No doubt about it.