The ‘Bogut effect’ in full force this season
MATT LOGUE ANDREW Bogut has only been back on Australian soil for nine months but the former NBA champion is already helping the NBL break records, on and off the court.
In a testament to Bogut’s popularity and respect within the hoops fraternity, he has placed the domestic game on the map this season.
And it all starts on the floor, where the veteran Boomers big man has put on a show.
After 10 games in the 2018/19 season, Bogut leads the league in rebounds and blocks.
He has also produced plenty of trademark dunks to have supporters across the country flocking to venues to watch him play.
Bogut’s presence has played a major role in both games between the Kings and United in Melbourne attracting a 10,300 sold-out crowd.
Sydney’s upcoming away games against Perth and the Hawks in Wollongong also have the sold-out sign up.
Bogut’s signing has also resulted in Sydney’s crowds being up by 25 per cent while the freeto-air audiences on Channel Nine are up 17 per cent.
Throw in online coverage of NBL increasing by a whopping 146 per cent and Aussie hoops is in a strong position.
Sydney Kings coach Andrew Gaze has thoroughly enjoyed having Bogut’s big-name aura on board this season.
“When you’ve got a seven footer coming down the back and making passes like a point guard, it is something you don’t get to see anywhere in the world,” Gaze enthused about Bogut, who spent 13 seasons in the NBA.
“Bogues has been terrific for us. He also has a great personality and is so media friendly, in that he isn’t your run of the mill athlete that just gives you stock standard answers.
“He says things that do generate impact and I think that sparks a lot of the non-basketball fans who have heard of Bogues but maybe have never got into the NBL or watched it.
“But because of his impact he is bringing a few more eyeballs on the game.
“But regardless of where he was playing, he was probably going to have that impact.
“We are fortunate he is at the Kings because everywhere we go he creates a lot of attention due to the career he had in the NBA.”
Kings GM of Basketball Jeff Van Groningen played a vital role in securing Bogut’s signa- ture. Van Groningen has been in contact with the former No.1 draft pick dating back a decade about the prospect of one day finishing his stellar career in Australia.
“Andrew is a transformational figure in the game in this country,” said Van Groningen.
“His presence in the largest market in Australia combined with the rising standard of the game here is an alignment that is perfect.”
Gaze believes Bogut’s NBL stint at the Kings will pave the way for other Australian NBA players to finish their careers at home. The likes of Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Ingles have all indicated they would like to return to the NBL one day.
Gaze says the NBA players’ desire to play Down Under is a testament to a resurgent domestic league.
“The NBL is a league now where our NBA players would be excited to come back and not feeling like it was some sort of obligation,” he said.
“Those guys have still got long careers to play out but it would be great to see some of them play in the NBL”.
ROYALLY GOOD: Andrew Bogut (centre) of the Sydney Kings has had a profound impact on NBL since coming back to play this year.