DALLAS — After competing against each other throughout their NBA careers, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and new Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut figure to make a lethal combination inside together this upcoming season.
Traded from Golden State to Dallas on July 7 along with a future second-round pick in exchange for a future conditional second-round pick, the 31-year-old Bogut will certainly be motivated during the 2016-17 campaign. The 11-year veteran and former Utah standout will also try to lift the Mavericks back to prominence in the Western Conference after helping to lead Golden State to the 2015 title, joining forces with fellow ex-Warrior Harrison Barnes in Dallas following the free-agent migration of Kevin Durant to Oakland from Oklahoma City. And according to Nowitzki, Bogut will immediately help the Mavs compete in the West while sliding into the starting center spot.
“It started slow there on the first couple days in July. All the free agents kind of went quickly. Sometimes you get a little fortunate, and I think with KD going to the Warriors it played in our favor a little bit,” Nowitzki said last week when recapping the Mavs’ moves in free agency. “They had to get rid of Barnes and they couldn’t keep Bogut at that amount of money, so we were able to get those two guys. They’re champions, they’re great players and they’re a part of a championship team, so they know how to play and they know how to win.”
While Barnes is expected to assume a larger role after signing a reported four-year deal worth $94 million, Bogut will also have a chance to fully display his skills at both ends of the floor.
Bogut holds career averages of 10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in 644 games, making 630 starts during his stints with Milwaukee and Golden State. He also garnered All-NBA Third Team honors with the Bucks during the ’09-10 season, earning a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team with the Warriors on their way to the title in 2015. The former No. 1 overall pick of Milwaukee in the 2005 draft was the first Australian ever taken with the top selection as well, averaging a double-double in three consecutive seasons with the Bucks from 2008-11 and posting a career-high 15.9 points to go along with 10.2 rebounds per game during the ’09-10 schedule. But after seeing a dip in his production last season with the Warriors, Bogut will try to build on an impressive run with the Australian national team in the Rio Olympic Games this summer.
Last season, Bogut played in 70 games for the Warriors but averaged a career-low 5.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes an outing. That said, he proved to still be an above-average rim protector in reduced time while equaling his career average with 1.6 blocks per game as the Warriors sprinted to an NBA-record 73 wins and a second straight trip to the Finals. Bogut then suffered a left knee injury in Game 5 of the Finals, forcing him out of the remainder of the series as the Warriors eventually fell to Cleveland in seven games. But after seeing Bogut show no lingering signs of the injury during the Olympics while averaging 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in seven games to lead Australia to a fourth-place finish, Nowitzki says the fellow 7-footer is sure to have a big season in Big D.
“I think Bogut will be a great player for us,” Nowitzki proclaimed while looking forward to teaming with the big man on the Mavs’ front line. “He’s a smart player. He can defend, obviously, and defend the rim. He’s a great passer, and probably one of the best passing big men there is in this league, so it should be fun playing with him.”