Andrew Bogut is the biggest ever signing for Australian hoops

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

By Scott Pryde, Scott Pryde is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    It’s official. One of Australia’s best ever basketball players and former number one NBA draft pick Andrew Bogut has been signed by the Sydney Kings.

    Yes, you read that right.

    Andrew Bogut, the man who has spent a decade in the best league on the planet is set to play in the NBL under another of Australia’s best, Sydney coach Andrew Gaze.

    Even better? It’s not one, but two years. A two-season contract for Bogut to potentially – and if he stays fit then he will – absolutely dominate the league. The details also show he is done with the NBA, announcing his retirement at a press conference on Tuesday morning and saying it was always a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ he came back to the league.

    It’s a dream for the league, a dream for the sport and could keep the revival going which has started to once again make basketball become a ticket item in the harbour city, while increasing the value of the league right around the country.

    It’s always been thought that if the NBL has a decent presence in both Sydney and Melbourne, it’ll be a strong league.

    The reaction has been a mixed one from fans around the country. There have been those claiming he is ‘past it,’ or ‘not worth what’s being invested,’ for example, but allow me to reassure you such arguments are rubbish.

    Absolute rubbish.

    Bogut was still holding his own – to an extent – in the NBA. He was picked up by the Cleveland Cavaliers last season in their run for the championship because of his defence and rebounding ability. While that lasted all of about 20 seconds before he was injured, the long-time Boomers centre has all the tools to be the NBL’s best player.

    Before his injury though, he more than held his own. If that was the NBA, he will rip the NBL to shreds. Playing on the end of two former MVP winners in Kevin Lisch and Jerome Randle, and with no centres anywhere near his league (outside of Melbourne United import Josh Boone), there are going to be some major mismatches across the competition.

    Basketballer Andrew Bogut

    (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

    While there are no problems with crowds in places like Perth and Melbourne, who both regularly filled their buildings during the year, Sydney are a team who have struggled for two seasons straight under Andrew Gaze, missing the finals on both occasions.

    His basketball IQ and talent on the floor should drag the team along with him and if he can stay fit, then anything less than a championship for Sydney won’t be good enough.

    Crowds in Sydney love to get behind a winner, so even after the initial euphoria of signing Bogut wears off, crowds should still be on an upward trend with the Kings simply having no excuses not to be at the pointy end of the competition.

    But moving away from what the signing does for Sydney’s championship hopes, the league is going to be benefited in a big way by the coup of having one of Australia’s most recognisable sporting faces on the floor.

    Bogut is a genuine big name and has the power to draw in casual fans to a competition which, while improving in both attendances and ratings, should use all the help they can get their hands on to continue that surge forward.

    Records were achieved last year by the league, but they will aim to continue pushing forward this year.

    Getting a big TV deal on free-to-air is a must. The Australian sports landscape, with reference to TV and which networks are broadcasting what is in an intriguing place right now.

    With the tennis going to Nine, the cricket going to Seven and both Nine and Ten having absolutely no live sport this summer (with the exception of one A-League game per week for the latter), the NBL could become a ticket item.

    The increasing interest in the league year-on-year is only going to continue its upward trend. Australia have plenty of players in the NBA right now, and with the Boomers a genuine medal chance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the NBL must strike now.

    There has been chatter that the NBL will strike a partnership with Basketball Australia to package free-to-air basketball rights with the upcoming Australia and USA games to be played at Etihad Stadium in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup.

    Getting games on free-to-air and capitalising on the momentum built by the signature of Bogut, as well as the increased quality of the league, is a must.

    Fox Sports may not be in a position to continue giving the NBL the exposure it’s had in recent years either, given their acquisition of cricket.

    While the league won’t be the money spinner other sports are, it’s hard to argue it’s not worth having, given the reported losses of cricket and the money shelled on that. Both Nine and Ten will have big budgets to spend on very little content one would imagine.

    At any rate, basketball in Australia is not all that far from overtaking the A-League. Their first elimination final last Friday attracted under 8,000 fans despite no other sport being on in Melbourne.

    Meanwhile, across town, United almost averaged five figures during the regular season before getting sell-outs in their four home finals games at Hisense Arena.

    While you have to look further than Melbourne, crowds are going to be up this year around the country. Bogut will play two games against every team away from home, and you can bet the Kings are going to be playing in front of full houses more often than not.

    Bogut has stated he is here to win games and not sell tickets though, despite the fact the first will feed the other at home and Bogut playing well will draw longevity in his support around the country, rather than it being a fad and fading off.

    The A-League has struggled for crowds and ratings all season, and with cricket seeming to fade outside of Ashes summers, the NBL has the summer there for the taking, to an extent.

    It’s never going to overtake cricket, but with football’s struggles, they should be aiming to become the number two sport in Australia’s summers.

    It could be a long-term gain for Aussie hoops as well, with Bogut stating in his press conference that other Aussie-NBA players had already texted him saying they could well do the same thing at the end of their careers in the States.

    Whatever the case, it’s exciting times ahead for the sport of basketball in Australia.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,800 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • April 25th 2018 @ 6:47am
      Slane said | April 25th 2018 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      You mention the fact that Bogut got picked up by the Cavs and then got injured right away yet dismiss claims that he is ‘past it’ offhandedly. Lets not beat around the bush: Andrew Bogut is retiring from the NBA because his body isn’t up to the rigours of the game anymore. No NBA teams are willing to take the risk that he will hold up. There is no doubt that Bogut could tear the NBL apart when he is at his best, but there is certainly an argument to be made that we are unlikely to see him anywhere near his best for any extended period of time.

      • April 25th 2018 @ 10:01am
        BrainsTrust said | April 25th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        NBA teams would still take a chance on Bogut if he was willing to play for the amount he was playing for the Cavs and thats why the Cavs took the risk on him. Bogut is a very good passing center so even if he struggles he can get rid of the ball. and he was playing on one leg for the Boomers at the Olympics.
        The most important thing about Bogut though is his name and he will be a big drawcard, he is by far the biggest name the NBL has attracted mainly because he was the best Australian NBA player , and he is the next best thing to getting a former NBA star. Al Harrington would be about the best NBA player to have played in the NBL and he wasn’t a drawcard at all. Steve Baker no one noticed him. The only way to trump Bogut is to get a name player from the NBA and little chance of ever doing that.

      • Roar Guru

        April 25th 2018 @ 10:30am
        Scott Pryde said | April 25th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Slane,

        He isn’t up to the rigours of an 82-game NBA season in the best league in the world. He is, however, well and truly up to the NBL – 28 games across 19 weeks. Come on. He will be more than able to handle that.

        • April 25th 2018 @ 5:18pm
          Slane said | April 25th 2018 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

          If he does not get injured he could absolutely handle it. He could also break down in his first game.

      • April 25th 2018 @ 5:31pm
        Mushi said | April 25th 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

        Did the NBL move to an 82 game season?

    • Roar Pro

      April 25th 2018 @ 10:26am
      Ryan Geer said | April 25th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      You’re right in saying no other NBL centre is anywhere near Bogut’s calibre (when healthy). If Bogut can stay healthy he has the chance to dominate the league. It turns the Kings into a very dangerous team with Randle, Lisch and Bogut and finally, some success could be on the way for Kings fans.

      Off the court as well you’re right it will be great exposure for the league and the game around Australia. Other NBL franchises will be licking their lips knowing when the Kings are coming to town, a great way to help fill up an arena.

      Hopefully Bogut can push through and stay healthy these next two years, and have one final crack at winning an Olympic medal with the Boomers in 2020. Bogut will be the experienced head in what looks to be a strong 2020 team with guys like Bogut and Goulding from the NBL and then NBA stars such as Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes.

      • April 25th 2018 @ 11:39am
        bilo said | April 25th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        plus Maker, Exum and Delly

      • April 25th 2018 @ 2:49pm
        SAVAGE said | April 25th 2018 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        Agreed.

    • April 25th 2018 @ 7:52pm
      Internal Fixation said | April 25th 2018 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

      I have concerns about other stars returning and the league oversight of salary caps etc.

      Bogut lands in Sydney where, surprise surprise the NBL desperately needs some success.

      What about Illawarra, Cairns and Adelaide? Are they a chance of getting these marque names? I’m not sure.

      • April 27th 2018 @ 8:31am
        BrainsTrust said | April 27th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        What NBL salary cap.
        Isn;t it 4 marquee players with only 150k of their salary counted to the cap.
        That there is a soft cap on top of that doesn’t matter much.
        No one has a clue what these teams are spending, Sydney would be high but they have Gaze.
        If Sydney want success the easiest way is to get rid of Gaze, Gaze from his commentary seems a bit in la la land , I think he is over coaching and unrealistic.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 27th 2018 @ 5:18pm
      Tom VDS said | April 27th 2018 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

      As you said Scott, big chance for basketball to become the number two summer sport. If a free-to-air deal can be negotiated, then there’s a larger market to aim at seeing a lot cricket in January has gone behind Foxsports’ paywall

    • April 28th 2018 @ 2:40pm
      Dave said | April 28th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

      Bogut was one of the biggest flops in NBA history. The only ones that don’t think so are parochial Aussies.

      He was a no. 1 pick goddammit. You’d expect him to be a cornerstone of your franchise and average at least 20ppg, 10 rebounds pg

      Reddit comparing him to another flop Kwame Brown –

      “His career average is 9ppg.

      He averaged 2.5 from 2003-2008.

      Not to mention he averages more turnovers than assists/steals/Blocks combined every season.

      Yeah, he was a terrible defender/passer. He did average over a block per 36 minutes for many years, however. More years, in fact, than Kwame – and that’s even considering he flamed out at age 25.

      6 rebounds for a 7 footer playing 27 minutes is anemic.

      As you said, Kwame was terrible here, too.

      Kwame was a big men that played above average D, a viable passer and was in general a good role player.

      His post defense is his one redeeming quality.”

      Don’t cry when he averages 8ppg in the NBL then breaks a nail and misses the rest of the year.

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