Andrew Bogut still hasn’t played a single minute for the Dallas Mavericks. Since the team has only played two preseason games, that’s understandable. But when he does start to see playing time, head coach Rick Carlisle already has a plan on how to use the veteran big man.
“We would like to use him more as a scorer on the inside,” Carlisle said before the Mavs’ first home preseason game. “I really feel that it’s important that his level of aggression and attacking the basket is there.
“I want him to get to the free throw line more. I know he’s going to shoot better from the free throw line the more he gets there.”
During his four seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Bogut averaged less than one free throw per game. That’s almost unheard of for someone who was averaging almost 24 minutes per contest. Bogut isn’t a great free throw shooter, averaging 55.8 percent from the line for his career, but more trips to the line will benefit him and the team.
Last season, the Mavericks ranked 21st in the NBA in free throw attempts per game. A team made up of jump shooters usually isn’t going to get to the line much, but Dallas needs to make a concerted effort to get there this season. That’s especially important because the team ranked third in free throw percentage last year.
Beyond getting to the line more, Carlisle knows that the team has a gem on its hands in Bogut and will work to incorporate him into the offense.
“You’re talking about a [Arvydas] Sabonis, [Bill] Walton level rim protector, rebounder, passer, playmaker at 7’2” or whatever his height is,” Carlisle said. “I just remember he was such a load to deal with in Milwaukee when he was a central figure in their offense. Not that he’s going to be a central figure [with the Mavericks], but we want him to be one of the people that creates a real balance when he’s on the floor.”
If Bogut can turn back the clock, at least just a little bit, to his days with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Mavs will be in fine shape. In his seven seasons with the Bucks, Bogut averaged 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks. Of course, he was also much younger then.
However, it’s not impossible to think that his point average could creep back into that range with an increased offensive role in Dallas.
Carlisle might not envision Bogut as a central figure on the team, that role will always be Dirk Nowitzki’s as long as he’s still playing. Yet, Bogut will certainly be one of the key members on both sides of the ball. And if he can stay healthy, it’s possible that his contributions on the court are the difference between a playoff berth or an early summer.