© Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND — On Thursday night, Andrew Bogut will return to Oracle Arena for the first time in three years as a member of the Warriors. Steve Kerr can’t wait.
“I think he’s going to get more than a warm reception,” Kerr said before tipoff with the visiting Indiana Pacers. “I think he’s going to get a raucous reception. I think our fans recognize that in many ways Andrew represented the shift in the Warriors organization and its emphasis on defense.”
With about a month left in the 2011-12 season, the Warriors acquired Bogut and Stephen Jackson for Monta Ellis, Ekype Udoh, and Kwame Brown. The Warriors finished with a 23-43 record in Mark Jackson’s first year as head coach, but a philosophy change began to take shape with Bogut at the forefront.
Kerr says aside from Stephen Curry being drafted, the Bogut signing was the “first domino” to fall in the organizational shift toward winning basketball. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green had been drafted in consecutive years. The Andre Iguodala signing followed Bogut’s one year later. The Australian native oversaw the Warriors transformation from average, to good, to great, to historically great. He was a key member of Golden State’s first NBA championship-winning team in 40 years.
“(Bogut) was pretty much here at the beginning of all this and has helped this franchise win a championship,” Kerr said. “He’s going to get a fantastic reception tonight, and I look forward to it.”
Bogut returned from Australia last week and started in his first game back with the Warriors. In two appearances on the team’s road trip, Bogut went 4-8 with nine points, 13 rebounds, and four assists in 32 minutes played.
Kerr knew what to expect in terms of Bogut’s playing style. But the Warriors head coach was most interested to see how Bogut moved and competed against NBA players. He showed he’s still capable.
“Boy, he looks fantastic,” Kerr said. “He looks lean, he’s refreshed, he’s recharged. I think he is really excited to be here, and his teammates are excited to have him.”
With DeMarcus Cousins returning to a starting role after resting a sore foot this past week, Kerr said Bogut will have an “insurance-policy role” moving forward — still a role nonetheless.
“As well as he played in the two games we had him on the trip,” Kerr said, “it’s not hard to see him making an impact even with DeMarcus here.”