Insofar as 14 months have passed since he last played in the NBA, Andrew Bogut’s second debut with the Warriors on Monday went about well as could be expected.
For an emergency starter whose head is spinning in multiple directions, it was solid.
“Andrew was great,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters in San Antonio. “It’s great to have him back. He’s a tremendous defensive player. He’s a great passer. He’s a lob threat. He’s going to help us.”
“Me personally, it was just good to be out there and trying to contribute,” he said. “But I would like to have left with a win.”
Bogut, 34, came out of retirement last week, signing for a second tour with the Warriors upon a March 3 completion of his season with the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League. The 7-foot center and his family arrived in the Bay Area over the weekend, giving him four days to find a house, take conditioning tests and prepare to play Thursday against Indiana at Oracle Arena.
But when DeMarcus Cousins sustained a mild injury to his right foot Saturday at Oklahoma City, the timeline moved up three days – to Monday, less than 24 hours after he arrived in San Antonio. Bogut barely knew where he was, much less fully prepared to start an NBA game.
“I felt all right,” Bogut said. “I was sucking wind a little bit in the first quarter, just from flying from Australia the last couple days. But once I got into a rhythm, I felt pretty good.
“I’m just figuring things out like where guys like the ball. That was something I’ve got to still figure out. I’m figuring out a few of our sets, which are new, but for the most part it’s about playing basketball.”
Bogut was signed mostly because he brings much-needed size, familiarity with the systems utilized by the Warriors – he was a member of the team in Kerr’s first two seasons as coach before being traded in 2016 – and his hoops IQ is a seamless fit.
It didn’t take long for Bogut to get his first hello by whistle, as fourth-year official Gediminas Petraitas assessed a foul for an illegal screen nine seconds after tipoff.
“Welcome to the league for sure,” Bogut said. “‘We know you set some hard screens, so we’re just going blow one early.’ That’s how it goes.”
The call “shocked” Kerr.
“It didn’t seem like much,” he said. “He just stood there. He didn’t stick his hip out. It was just a back screen, didn’t impact the play. And, bam, quick foul.”
There were a couple hiccups, as was expected, but Bogut never looked out of place among his new/old teammates. He was minus-2 for the game.
“Obviously, playing with Klay and Steph when I was here last time," Bogut said. "And now throw (Kevin Durant) in there and see how talented he is and how easy the game comes to him, it makes you a little bit jealous. Those guys are really talented.”
Bogut’s return to the Warriors came precisely two months after Cousins was activated. Both are former All-NBA centers. The Warriors won in Cousins’ debut, beating the Clippers, but fell short against the Spurs.
Better days are ahead, according to Bogut.
[WATCH: Steph beats first-quarter buzzer]
“When you get our offense free-flowing, there are so many weapons,” he said. “I can say tonight was a bad night for us, but you can see the potential of this lineup, especially once you throw DeMarcus out there and a few other guys. It’s pretty special.”
The Warriors should benefit from Bogut’s presence. If the first game is any indication, he’ll be a very good backup to Cousins, as dictated by matchups.