Bucks center moving forward – Part I

Bogut continues strides amid setbacks

By Truman Reed

Andrew Bogut

When Bogut rejected four or more shots in a game, the Bucks went 14-4.

Over the past decade, the Milwaukee Bucks have had total of three all-NBA Team selections.

Two of them - Ray Allen in 2001 and Michael Redd in 2004 -- earned the distinction largely on their exploits as scorers.

The third - Andrew Bogut in 2010 -- certainly helped his cause with the most prolific scoring season of his career, but 53 of his contemporaries bettered his 15.9-points-per-game average.

Considering those numbers, Milwaukee's small-market status and its lack of national television exposure, Bogut had to do a great deal more than score to even put himself in consideration for the honor, let alone earn the 11th-most votes in the league.

And that is what he did.

In his fifth pro season, Bogut was one of just two NBA players -- Dwight Howard was the other -- who averaged at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game.

Most importantly to Bogut, if not the voters, he helped the Bucks to a 46-36 record, their most wins since going 50-32 in 2000-01, and their first playoff appearance since 2006.

The Bucks were 40-29 with Bogut in the lineup before he missed the final six games of the season with injuries to his right elbow, wrist and hand after a fall against Phoenix on April 3.

Bogut blocked a career-best 175 shots in 69 games, which included a franchise record streak of 39 consecutive games with a block, the longest such streak in the NBA in 2009-10 and the longest since Marcus Camby blocked a shot in 51 straight games in 2007-08.

When Bogut rejected four or more shots in a game, the Bucks went 14-4.

Milwaukee was also 23-8 when its center scored 17 points or more, 16-3 when he tallied 20-plus points and 13-1 when he recorded at least 20 points with 10 or more rebounds.

Those team records are a far cry from those the Bucks accumulated through Bogut's first four NBA seasons, during which they won just 128 games and lost 328, for a winning percentage of .389.

Those team records are also the most significant numbers, in Bogut's estimation, of the progress he has made as a pro.

That became obvious last season when Bogut was asked about his prospects of becoming an NBA All-Star.

"It (becoming an All-Star) would be a great step of progress for my career," Bogut said. "But I'm not out there trying to promote myself. I'm trying to help this team win. If it happens, it happens and I'll be happy about it, but if it doesn't, I'm not going to worry about it.

"We're over .500. That's something to be excited about. But we've got to stay grounded. We can't get cocky. We can't fall into that trap. We've got to stay ready for the next game. You want to be positive, but you want to stay focused, too."

Bogut's statistics have changed for the better since he entered the NBA as its No. 1 draft pick in 2005, fresh off being recognized as the consensus collegiate player of the year.

That hasn't happened by accident.

"I've got a history of getting better and better every year," Bogut said. "I don't want to lose that.

"I think I've learned how to work hard during the offseason and come back better and better."

That objective has focused on different facts of the game each year.

When asked if there was a particular element of his game that he was working to upgrade most this season, Bogut responded, "Just hitting that face-up jumper. I've been shooting it more confidently and better. I have to keep working on it.

"I've looked at the shot chart with our coaches to see what I do with the ball. I'm going to try to face up more and shoot that jumper."

Bogut's improvement has not been lost upon Bucks Coach Scott Skiles.

"Andrew is an all-league defender," Skiles said. "He should be first- or second-team all-defense. Then there are those nights when he can have a big scoring game.

"He has elevated himself to being one of the better centers in the league. He just has to keep striving for consistency."

Bogut's numbers have changed over the course of his career, but his team-first philosophy hasn't changed at all. That became obvious as he spoke about goals for his sixth pro season.

"Team-wise, we'd like to get a home-court advantage in the playoffs," Bogut said. "That would be nice. And maybe make the second, third or fourth round.

"People are questioning whether I'll be scoring more or less now. I don't really care about that. I have to be huge for this team defensively, blocking shots, taking charges and rebounding. The rest will take care of itself. Some games I might have over 20 and others guys like John (Salmons) and Brandon (Jennings) will take over the scoring. And we do have other guys who can score. For the most part, I'm confident I'll continue to get better and better." (Visit Bucks.com again soon for Part II of this series.)

Part I