Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
The 2005 NBA Draft will forever be the bane of every Bucks and Hawks fan's existence. Milwaukee will go one further, and argue that if the Bucks were dead-set on nabbing a big man, the other Andrew should've been their guy. Some revisionists in Milwaukee might tell you that they had Deron Williams or Chris Paul on their draft boards all along, despite the fact the 2004-05 Bucks featured a frontcourt rotation of Dan Gadzuric, Joe Smith, with a little Keith Van Horn and Calvin Booth. The truth? Milwaukee needed size. Badly. And there was one big man on the board who fit the bill.
Every scouting summary of Andrew Bogut in the summer of 2005 included the word "fundamental" prominently up top. Bogut demonstrated balletic footwork, soft hands, the ability to work shots for himself in both the high and low posts, and he knew how to pass out of the double-team and find a cutter. He finished second in the nation in rebounding behind a wiry kid from Louisiana Tech named Paul Millsap.
Bogut took some lumps when he first arrived at the pro game. Those double-teams were bigger and quicker; setting up on the NBA block is a far cry from Mountain West play. Rebounding? You try keeping the entire Central Division off the glass with only Jamaal Magloire and a bunch of undersized guards alongside you. The motion offense left over from Rick Majerus at Utah worked Bogut's strengths to perfection. In Milwaukee circa 2006, though, it was all about getting Michael Redd an open look at his spot. And those NBA defensive rotations...well, the less said about those, the better.
The emergence of Deron Williams and Chris Paul from the Class of 2005 will always shadow Bogut's contributions in Milwaukee. But the big Aussie has improved. 132 blocks and an average line that's approaching a double-double offer some promise. His interior defense is inordinately better. Will that justify five years and $60M in guaranteed money? To be determined.
Bogut would do well to improve his face-up game by extending his range beyond the elbow. He should also perform the kind of work off the ball he did in college -- even if he's never had a system in Milwaukee that rewards it. Like 75% of the big men in the league, Bogut's pick-and-roll defense could use some improvement.
Inside Hoops recently caught up with Bogut for a Q & A.
UPDATE: Brian McCormick takes issue with my premise that the Bucks, given their roster in the Summer of 2005, had to take Bogut:
I like Bogut. I think I had him #1 that year. However, I think the reasoning that you offer for drafting Bogut #1 is flawed. I do not think that teams at the top of the lottery should draft for need. I write about it here.
In short, stars win games. Every team needs a star. Stars are almost always picked high in the draft, especially now that high school players cannot enter the draft. You are not going to win a championship without a star.
In most drafts, there are 2-3 stars, maximum. Therefore, at the top of the draft, you have to draft one of those stars. Now, of course, different people see potential stardom in different players. However, looking back at Bogut's draft, I don't think people envisioned Bogut as a star - most saw him as a good big man who could be one of the better big men in the league, because of their scarcity. But, a good man is not the same as a star.
We often over-value size, which is what happened. Chris Paul and Deron Williams illustrated star potential throughout college. Nothing, not even a skilled seven-footer, should have shifted our attention away from their future stardom.
Bogut may continue to improve. But, he will not be the go-to guy on a championship team. Paul and Williams may not either, but my money would be on Paul or Williams, not Bogut.