OAKLAND – In the prolonged absence of one incumbent frontcourt starter, forward David Lee, the Warriors were splendid. And now they're looking at the possibility of another big man on the sidelines for an indefinite period, at least several weeks.
The loss of center Andrew Bogut, though, is bound to have a far greater effect, nearly all of it negative for the Warriors, who have the best record in the NBA entering the game against the Thunder on Thursday at Oracle Arena.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr will seek to replace Bogut with a committee. Sometimes it will be Festus Ezeli, a natural center. Sometimes it will be Marreese Speights, a natural power forward. Ognjen Kuzmic will find a few more minutes. There will be times when Kerr utilizes a lineup so small it will feature 6-foot-7 Draymond Green at center. And when Lee returns, possibly next week, he surely will get a few minutes.
But while Lee's absence has been capably offset by Green, who brings a much different skill set but has been effective enough to offset most of what was last with Lee, there is no such simple alternate for Bogut – at least not for the moment, though general manager Bob Myers is exploring potential options, as he has all season.
[RELATED: Myers reveals time frame, goal for Lee's return]
No matter what Kerr tries, he won't be able to replicate what Bogut delivers, nor is there anyone who can provide what Bogut does, as the defensive-minded Green does for the defensively deficient Lee. Though he can't score with the consistency of Lee, Green allows far fewer baskets and that often results in a net plus.
The best that can be expected of Ezeli, who missed all of last season with a knee injury and essentially is in Year 2 of his career, is to offer a rugged defensive presence similar to that which Bogut brought to each game.
"I just have to keep being myself, keep doing what I do but just bring it to a higher level," Ezeli said Thursday morning.
"(Bogut) has really been instrumental in my progress as a player since I've been here. Now that he's out I have to step in and fill in. We can't wait for the big fellow to get back. But, meanwhile, I'm going to be protecting the paint."
No matter who Myers might turn to, if anyone, he won't find anyone who can offset Bogut's comprehensive set of skills.
For one, Bogut is one of the five best rim protectors in the NBA, blocking shots but altering even more and, moreover, discouraging opponents from trying to penetrate.
For two, the 7-footer also is a solid rebounder, ranking 13th overall in rebounding but fifth in the more telling statistic of rebounds per minute played.
For three, Bogut is one of the five best passers among centers and has become an integral part of the new offense installed by coaches Steve Kerr and Alvin Gentry. This is a new dimension for Bogut as a Warrior, but it had been working well enough for him to rank third in assists among centers.
Fourth and finally, Bogut is the team's primary defensive voice, scanning the floor and barking out switches often before they actually occur.
Bogut was playing well enough to merit All-Star consideration. His basic numbers – 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 53.7 field-goal percentage – were good but his presence and intangibles were far better.
The Warriors can look for that package, but they won't find it.
So coaches and players will have to make adjustments on both sides of the ball. The team will have to play even faster and the coaches must be even more creative.
The Warriors are in a good place these days. Staying there without Bogut will be exceedingly difficult.