Another week, another Andrew Bogut injury. It seems to be a broken record at this point for the Warriors.
Golden State’s oft-injured center didn’t travel with the team as it kicked off a five-game road trip Sunday, since he’s battling back spasms caused by a protruding disk.
Since he went down with this latest injury, all the Warriors have done is beat the San Antonio Spurs for the first time since 2008 and rally past the Minnesota Timberwolves for a tough road win.
Of course, that sparked chatter that maybe the Dubs are actually better off without the Aussie patrolling the paint. It frees up more playing time for reserves Jarrett Jack, a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and Carl Landry, both of whom have been terrific. And Golden State seems to play better team defense when Bogut isn’t in the lineup.
But anyone who thinks an NBA team is better off without a 7-foot big man who can pass, rebound, defend and score in the low post has clearly made one too many trips to the local cannabis club.
The problem is the Warriors haven’t gotten the player Bogut is capable of being.
Bogut appears as if he still isn’t fully recovered from the microfracture surgery he had on his left ankle in the offseason, and it’s hampered his production in the 12 games — in which the Warriors are 6-6 this season — he has managed to play in.
As a result, it’s been a problem acclimating him to the rest of the roster. The timing, continuity and rhythm haven’t been there. There was no training camp or preseason to work out the kinks.
That’s why Golden State has looked better, for the most part, when Bogut isn’t in the lineup. There’s a familiarity with everyone else and their idiosyncrasies that is lacking with Bogut. But does that mean the Warriors are better than they would be with a healthy, fully adjusted Bogut? Absolutely not.
The good thing for Golden State is that they have proven to be a playoff-caliber team with or without Bogut. And the upcoming schedule is on their side.
After they wrap up their current road trip, which features a daunting four-games-in-five-nights stretch starting tonight against the Indiana Pacers, Golden State finishes with 16 of its final 22 in the cozy confines of Oracle Arena.
The Warriors shouldn’t even think about Bogut coming back until after this trip. If he can make it back for the final 22 games and somehow remain upright, it would give Golden State time to learn its strengths and weaknesses with him in the fold.
The Warriors are a playoff team, but they aren’t yet a championship team. Particularly in the minefield known as the Western Conference.
But given the right matchup and a few breaks, Golden State can make some noise in the postseason.
That noise can become even louder with a healthy and efficient Bogut playing at his best.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dkruse16.