This past summer, Bogut was chosen to represent his country at the Olympics in Athens. Because of injury problems, he was named the starting center for Australia, and many eyebrows were raised, wondering how the 19 year old is going to deal with going up against some of the best Centers in the world. Bogut came through in a big way for his country, though, averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds for Australia, looking outstanding for the most part, even against Tim Duncan and team USA.
So far this year Bogut has started the season exactly where he left off at the Olympics. After being named to the pre-season Naismith and Wooden award lists, Bogut is averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks per game so far, on 62% shooting. Most of those numbers came against cupcake teams, but when Utah and him traveled to play two ranked Pac-10 opponents on the road, Washington and Arizona, Bogut elevated his game to the occasion, scoring 23 and 20 points respectively, while keeping his rebounding and assist numbers at or above his season averages so far, although the Utes lost both games rather closely.
So what's the scouting report on Andrew Bogut at the moment? I'm so glad you asked that, because I've got a lot to share.
First off, his body looks completely different then it did last year. Bogut started the season last year looking extremely buff, and in result his mobility (especially his quickness and leaping ability) suffered. Over the course of the year he appeared to be losing weight, and it appears that he's now finally found the perfect equilibrium between strength and quickness, as his body looks great, and his mobility is much improved. He's definitely a lot quicker up and down the floor this year, laterally he is moving much better, and he is definitely much faster getting off the floor as well. The biggest change, though, has to be in his confidence level. Suddenly you see him getting emotional after a big play or in timeouts with his teammates, demanding the ball in the paint, not being shy about shooting the three, and even speaking up and voicing his opinions in the press. All great things to see out of such a talented, but sometimes-bashful player.
Skill wise, Bogut is one of the most fundamentally sound players you'll find in all of college basketball. He possesses extremely solid footwork in the post, on both offense and defense. He is smart, strong, aggressive and not soft in the least bit when he's posting up his man in the paint. His gigantic hands and excellent wingspan make him a constant threat to receive the ball at almost any moment. His teammates can just throw the ball in his general direction, and Bogut will go get it. If you double him, he'll use his outstanding court vision and passing ability to find the open man on the wing and pick apart the defense. Foul him and he'll go right to the line and nail his free throws (shooting 74% from the line so far this year). He's got a terrific touch around the basket and an assortment of post moves he can use, including a very nice half hook shot. Thanks to his strength, magnet-like hands, wingspan and especially his mind, he's now considered one of the best rebounders in the NCAA. In fact, his hands are so big and soft that he can palm the ball in mid-air and pass it to his teammate, all in one fluid motion.
Bogut is a threat in the paint, but he's equally dangerous in the high post. He has a very nice shooting stroke with a high release that makes it very hard to block, and range all the way out to the three point line. His mid-range game is quite solid, he can put the ball on the floor and take it all the way to the basket, find the open man with the drive and dish, or pull up and nail the 14 footer.
Last year we thought Bogut would eventually become a Power Forward in the NBA. But judging by his physical attributes and skill set, and especially the lack of Centers in the league at the moment, there is no reason why Bogut can't play as a modern Center, like Brad Miller or Vlade Divac. You really get the feeling that he's getting the short end of the stick playing in the NCAA sometimes. Every time he tries to make an aggressive move to the basket he has some overeager 6-1 kid sliding in front of him to take an iffy charge, and whenever he puts a body on someone on defense he gets called for a ticky-tack foul, that would never be called by NBA refs. Utah's offense looks infinitely better then it did last year under Rick Majerus, but they still have problems getting the ball inside to Bogut sometimes, as they lack a great post-entry passer. Bogut would probably be averaging double the assists he has at the moment if he actually had some better shooters around him to feed off his passes when he gets double teamed, Marc Jackson aside, no one on that team is averaging more then one three pointer a game. There's also something to be said about the amount of shots Bogut is getting. While he isn't being ignored the way he was last season, he is still shooting a ridiculously high percentage from the field (62%) and it seems like Utah would benefit from pounding the ball to him inside even more and making sure he gets more looks. The problem is that the strategy of many teams when going up against Utah is to double and triple team the kid and make the rest of the team beat them instead. So far, this strategy has been fairly effective. We can only wonder how much better Bogut would be if he had some more talent surrounding him.
So what are the weaknesses in his game? No one is perfect, and Bogut is no exception. Bogut generally needs to become a much better defender in the post to really fulfill his potential and become an outstanding post player on both ends of the floor.
He appears to have some problems recognizing and defending the pick and roll, as well as on help defense, knowing when to rotate and when to get in the air in order to stay out of foul trouble. His man-to-man defense looks OK, especially his lateral movement, but he sometimes uses his hands too much, which gets him in foul trouble as well.
While it's not as obvious as it was last year, Bogut isn't a freak athlete and will have to work just a little bit harder and use more brain cells then the average NBA player because of that. He most likely will never be an outstanding shot blocker because of his average vertical leap, but still has some potential in this aspect because of his hands and wingspan.
All in all I think Bogut just needs to work on keeping his composure, playing to his strengths, and most importantly continue to have fun.