Andrew Bogut

Warriors think they have a healthy Andrew Bogut this season

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Last season, Andrew Bogut missed 50 games. The season before that 54. The season before that 17. It’s been a long time since we’ve really seen a healthy Bogut for an extended period.

But we also saw in the playoffs last season what a healthy Bogut means to Golden State — he is their defensive anchor inside, he averaged 7.2 points a game shooting 58 percent, while pulling down 10.9 rebounds a game. His passing skills are a great fit with shooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

The Warriors with the addition of Andre Iguodala are a playoff lock in the West, but how far they can go will depend on a healthy Bogut and his presence in the paint. The team thinks he’s healthy and are treating him as such, GM Bob Meyer told the Sporting News.

“I think the initial thought is he is healthy, and play him as much as you want,” general manager Bob Myers told Sporting News. “If something obviously were to develop, something unforeseen, you have to react to it. At this point, you treat him like he is 100 percent healthy, that is what he is saying, that is what the medical staff is saying, so, you don’t treat him any other way. Maybe the question is, do you want to play him 35 minutes? But that is a question for any center. It is not due to anything with his injury. We’re approaching it like he is healthy.”

Golden State is clearly going to try and keep Bogut’s minutes down, something you can tell just by looking at the roster. There is Festus Ezeli, Jermaine O’Neal and Marreese Speights all who can take on minutes at the five and keep Bogut down in the 28 minutes a night range. Which would be about the top end of where I’d want him.

If Bogut is healthy he will upgrade the Warriors pedestrian defense from last season. Do that with Andre Iguodala on the wing helping the perimeter defense, and if this all melds together on the offensive end the Warriors are a very dangerous team come playoff time.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: