Andrew Bogut teased himself and the Golden State Warriors several times this season, so the San Jose Mercury News' report that the center is aiming at a return against the Toronto Raptors (16-28) on Monday could be another premature comeback attempt.
Or it could finally be a sign that Bogut, who played in four games at the beginning of the season, will be able to produce for the first time since being acquired in last March's trade that sent Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks. On Nov. 8, Bogut said he'd take a little more than a week off to strengthen the ankle, and he hasn't returned since, missing the last 38 games.
An ankle surgery that was originally described as minor turned out to be microfracture, and Bogut's recovery period has included a rumor about the team pushing him back too soon. That was denied.
What is undeniable, however, is what Bogut could do for a Golden State team (26-17) sitting at fifth place in the Western Conference.
What to expect?
It's hard to predict how well Bogut will play when he ultimately returns, but he averaged 6.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and a block in his four games played this year. That was in 18.3 minutes per game and on a bum ankle.
Common sense would suggest that he'll be capable of at least those numbers in limited minutes to begin, and that's already an upgrade to the current situation. Mark Jackson has started rookie Festus Ezeli at center, and in 16.1 minutes per game he has averaged 2.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and a block per game. Meanwhile, center Andris Biedrins has only received spot minutes.
Offensively, Bogut will be an upgrade. He averages 12.6 points and 2.3 assists for his career and would allow Golden State to play more inside-out. His passing out of the post should only help shooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for Golden State, which at 38.8 percent three-point accuracy is the best in the NBA.
Bogut could also solve a recent problem in the rebounding department. Forwards David Lee and Carl Landry have been about the only options on that front, and the Warriors have given up 57 second-chance points off 36 combined offensive rebounds in their last two games -- both losses -- to the Bucks and Bulls.
And defensively, Bogut will at least provide a shot-altering presence for a Warriors team that is the second-worst shot-blocking unit in the league.
How will he help tonight?
If Bogut can give it a go, he'll be a big boost in the paint against a Toronto team that is in the NBA's bottom third of most rebounding statistics. The Raptors and their lack of a dominating paint presence will be a magnified example of how Bogut will also give the Warriors' opponents trouble from a scoring standpoint as well.
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: CSN Bay Area/TSN
Odds: Golden State opened as a two-point favorite.