MILWAUKEE -#8212; Andrew Bogut's first game in Milwaukee as an opponent will come today with the Warriors' center looking a lot like the dominant big man the Bucks drafted in 2005.
The 7-footer from Australia doesn't have the offensive role he had in Milwaukee -#8212; where he averaged in double figures in scoring six straight years -#8212; but has turned into a perfect fit in Golden State, which has won nine straight.
"It's great to see him healthy and whole for the first time in a long time," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "He's been the anchor to our defense."
Bogut is averaging eight points, often with his scoring coming early in the game before the Warriors' other potent weapons take over in the second half. He's grabbing 10.2 boards a night and provides great protection around the rim -#8212; everything the Warriors hoped they'd get from Bogut once he was healthy after they traded Monta Ellis for him in 2011.
That is the key. Bogut is healthy for first time since Golden State acquired him. He was recovering from a fractured left ankle at that time and never suited up for the Warriors that first season.
Bogut played only 32 games last season, but flashed his potential in the playoffs as an impactful defender. He's definitely played that way this year while participating in 35 of 36 games -#8212; the lone game he missed was due to a suspension.
What kind of a reception is Bogut expecting when he plays in Milwaukee for the first time as a Warrior? "A cold one. Freezing," Bogut joked, referencing the frigid temperatures that includes a high of 5 degrees for Monday.
But when he steps on the court, he's not sure what to expect.
"I still have a special place in my heart for Milwaukee," Bogut said. "I went through adolescence to late teenage years to growing into a man in Milwaukee so it'll always have a special place in my heart. I believe I still have a lot of fans there. I have a lot of respect for the city. There will be a little bit of boo birds, a little bit of both. That's just the way it goes. I'm excited to go there and see people that I spent my first eight years of my career with."
Warriors' forward David Lee has gone through the experience of returning to play in New York after six seasons with the Knicks that included an All-Star appearance. He thinks Bogut is well suited to handle the environment.
"He's a mature guy," Lee said of Bogut. "He's a guy that I think out of anybody on the team will probably be the best at not letting any of that stuff bother him. He's just going to go out and play and do his job and he's a hard-hat type of guy."
Bogut wouldn't deny that he'll be fired up to get a win against his former team, who happen to have the NBA's worst record at 7-26.
"There's no doubt about it," he said. "I have respect for the franchise. I have respect for the people that I worked with there. I still have close friends in the franchise.
"Obviously there's been a changing of the guard there. They've moved on a lot with people that were there when I was there. But I still have the utmost respect for the franchise. They drafted me, they helped move my career."