SALT LAKE CITY — Andrew Bogut is finally feeling 100 percent healthy again.
And, as far as he and the Golden State Warriors are concerned, it's about time.
After all, the 7-foot center and former University of Utah All-American has battled an assortment of debilitating injuries over the past couple of years, including ongoing issues with his left ankle that kept him off the court for more than nine months in 2012.
But after playing in a total of just 44 regular-season games over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons combined, Bogut showed what he can do in the 2013 NBA playoffs, when he started in all 12 games and became the first Golden State player to average double-digit rebounds (10.9) in the postseason since 1987.
His 14-point, 21-rebound playoff performance against Denver last May marked the first time anybody in a Warriors uniform had done something like that in 25 years.
On Tuesday night, he scored a modest six points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Golden State's lopsided 101-78 preseason loss to the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. He had an assist and a steal in a little less than 23 minutes of playing time.
But Warriors coach Mark Jackson is just glad to have the big man back and able to run the floor again while contributing in so many ways for his freewheeling team.
"He's crucial to us," Jackson said of Bogut. "This is the first time in a long time he's healthy and whole, and his ability to defend, rebound, post up, make plays in transition and also in our half-court sets separates him.
"He just makes our weapons on the floor live ones as opposed to, you know, you don't have to guard the five-man. He's a big-time playmaker.
"He's finally 100 percent and it's been a long time," Jackson said. "He deserves it and we're thrilled to have him healthy and whole."
Bogut, who'll turn 29 in November, was college basketball's player of the year for the Utes back in 2005 and is beginning his ninth NBA season. The 7-foot center from Australia, who was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, has averaged 12.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.58 blocks per game in 440 career games.
But you can't help but wonder what the big man might've done if not for a career that has been curtailed by a series of injuries and subsequent surgeries on his foot, elbow, hand and ankle.
Now, though, for the first time in a long time, he's healthy to begin an NBA campaign.
"I feel pretty good, yeah," he said, noting that the trip back to his old college stomping grounds isn't much fun when his team loses like it did Tuesday night. "This is a quick trip for us because we've got a back-to-back, so I haven't had any time to catch up with anybody.
"But it's always nice to come back to see the fans I played in front of for two years at the U. I have a few (fans) left here; a lot of people have moved on to take jobs all over the states and the world, but there's still a couple of close friends that I have here."
And as far as his health is concerned, he's definitely ready to roll.
"I feel great, yeah, I feel great," he said. "I'm just trying to get my confidence back offensively — it's not where it should be — but as far as moving around the court, my body responded pretty well."
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