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October 20, 2011
Can He Bounce Back?
Andrew Bogut

by Sebastian Pruiti

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Toward the end of the 2009-10 season, Andrew Bogut suffered a terrible elbow injury that ended his season. While Bogut returned last year, the injury still seemed to have an impact on his play as his performance clearly dropped.

In 2009-10, Bogut put up career numbers, piling up a 20.7 PER while posting a True Shooting Percentage (TS%) of 54.1 percent. A year ago, Bogut's PER dropped all the way down to 16.7. The main reason was Bogut's difficulty putting the ball in the basket as his True Shooting Percentage fell below 50 percent.

Where Did He Struggle?

When looking at Bogut's numbers and examining the tape, the area where Bogut seemed to struggle the most was the pick-and-roll game. Two years ago, Bogut was among the league's top 5 percent when it came to pick-and-roll situations, scoring 1.357 points every time he rolled to the rim after setting a ball screen. Maybe more impressive than that PPP number is that Bogut did this while shooting an incredible 70.8 percent, fifth highest in the NBA among players with at least 50 shots as a roll man. This past season, that shooting percentage dropped to 57.3 percent.

Bogut's efficiency when rolling to the rim dropped with his shooting percentage, as he scored just 1.075 PPP as a roll man last year. So what changed? Bogut became less effective in the pick-and-roll because he stopped rolling to the rim as much. Two seasons ago, Bogut went all the way to the rim 92.2 percent of the time. Last year, that dropped to 78.5 percent. Instead of rolling to the rim, Bogut was picking and popping, which he wasn't very good at, shooting just 27.3 percent when doing so:

Bogut isn't a great midrange shooter to begin with, even when he gets his feet set, shooting just 16-72 (22.2 percent) from outside 10 feet according to Hoopdata.com. Throw in the fact that Bogut is now catching on the move and trying to get set (or sometimes shooting on the move), and that is going to lead to missed shots.

Can He Bounce Back?

Before looking at whether or not Bogut can bounce back, we should try to figure out what Bogut popped more at a higher rate. Everyone's first instinct is to blame it on Bogut's injury, saying that has lead to a little bit of timidness (or even that his elbow is still hurting him and bothering his shot). While that might be the case, I want to look a little bit deeper into it. To do that, we have to look at the man setting up Bogut, point guard Brandon Jennings. Jennings, the Bucks' primary ball handler when it comes to using ball screens, isn't particularly effective when it comes to setting up roll men, and the numbers suggest that he got somewhat worse at it in his second season. In 2009-10, Jennings committed a turnover when trying to hit the roll man with a pass 4.7 percent of the time. Last season, that number jumped all the way up to 8.3 percent.

Ultimately, I don't really think that there was one major factor that contributed to Bogut's poor play in the pick-and-roll, which lead to his poor play overall, but rather a combination of a few different factors. So can Bogut bounce back? I think he can. Two years ago, Bogut was one of the best players in the league (and almost unstoppable) when rolling to the rim. Being another year away from that elbow injury and gaining another year of experience playing with Jennings should only help him return to comfortably rolling to the rim almost exclusively. When that happens, Bogut's effectiveness should return to his 2009-10 levels.

Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Sebastian by clicking here or click here to see Sebastian's other articles.

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