Bogut is swaying me a bit through his attitude, the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith chimes in.........
Utah's Bogut fundamental as he is fun
Draft's likely top pick doesn't lack for ability or opinions
By Sam Smith
Tribune pro basketball reporter
June 26, 2005, 10:39 PM CDT
This is not Luc Longley or Chris Anstey. This is not Kent Benson, Joe Kleine or Jon Koncak. Or even Vlade Divac.
"I'm not as slow as Vlade," said Andrew Bogut, the Australian of Croatian descent who is likely to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Tuesday.
"There's been the great black stiffs too," Bogut told reporters in predraft interviews this month. "The whole big, great white stiff thing comes up every now and then. But there's been Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi. They went No. 1. That's just the thing in America. The big white guy isn't supposed to be as good as the big black guy. That's something I can't control, and I'm just going to work hard."
This guy is going to be good, and he's going to be fun.
When Utah's Bogut, the consensus national collegiate player of the year, worked out last week for the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the No. 1 pick, he offered up the team's new starting lineup.
"T.J. [Ford], Michael Redd, Desmond Mason, Joe Smith and me," he said before going to Atlanta and offering: "At point guard Tyronn Lue, Josh Childress and Josh Smith, Al [Harrington] at the four, and myself at center, depending on the situation at point guard. But most importantly, I want to be the No. 1 pick."
Which would mean not going to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 2.
Bogut then went on to recite the starting fives and most of the reserves for all the teams.
Heck, most draftees these days can't name most of the teams.
Bogut, who measured more than 7 feet and 250 pounds at the Chicago predraft camp, looks as if he could be an All-Star and sounds as if he'll be Hall of Fame sound-bite material.
He named San Antonio's Tim Duncan as his favorite player because when you dunk you should act like you've done it before.
He worked out in Washington before going to meet teams, and told the Washington Post he holds little regard for today's NBA Dream Team players.
Said Bogut: "The problem these days is money, and the guys just all want to be All-Stars. That [1992 Dream Team] was all All-Stars, the best of the best. But they were professional in their manner, on and off the court. They weren't immature kids coming out of high school.
"Not to knock the high schoolers, but those players had been through the college process. They learned to gain respect from coaches, Dean Smith and so on. Then they got to the NBA and they got beat up by other teams before they succeeded; [Michael] Jordan getting beat up by the Pistons and so on. They learned to respect the game and they were unselfish when they played.
"One game, Magic [Johnson] scored 20. One game, Jordan scored 20. It didn't matter. 'Who cares? We're beating up on the world.'
"These days, guys play 82 games a year where the ball is going through them every game. All of a sudden, they train with the best of the best and there's not enough basketballs on the court. It's a cliché, but it's so true, I think. They really need to get more role players on the USA team that aren't Dream Team-caliber but just understand their roles.
"You know, 'If you're open, shoot the three, defend your rear off and rebound. That's all we want from you.' There are guys in the league that do that, and every other country has that now except the USA.
"I think that's why the past four years everybody has caught up and started to beat up on the U.S."
He showed up at team interviews wearing a suit and tie while most of the players came in baggy shorts and sweat outfits.
He tried to recruit Redd in Milwaukee, saying he'd find him for open shots constantly.
He likened Milwaukee to Salt Lake City and Australia, where there is great hospitality in a family-oriented environment where he'd be comfortable.
He has started a charitable foundation to help underprivileged youth in Croatia, Australia, Utah and, he said, the city that drafts him.
Is this a con, or what?
Bogut can play.
He's regarded as one of the best passing big men in years.
He can score in the post, shoots with both hands and is considered fundamentally sound and unselfish.
The big knock against him is average athleticism, which will hurt him against more versatile big men and against the smaller centers teams are expected to begin using.
There's also a question about his ability to run the court.
Another knock is the alleged problem with his eyes, brought up by Rick Majerus, Bogut's coach at Utah his freshman year, but since discounted.
The Bucks are being circumspect, but it sounds as if Atlanta is putting out the negative word because the Hawks want Bogut so badly.
Plus, it was Majerus who a few years ago was pushing Jared Jeffries at No. 1 over Yao Ming.
This could be a draft that will be looked back on for years as one of the better ones.
It includes the athletic Marvin Williams and a top group of point guards in Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Ray Felton, who could become dominant leaders.
High schooler Gerald Green is said to be a can't-miss prospect, and big guys like Channing Frye could become All-Stars.
Bogut may not be the best of them, but he'll certainly be the most entertaining. And darn good.
Copyright © 2005, The Chicago Tribune