Bogut edges tightest NBL MVP race in history
Andrew Bogut has spent a season under the guidance of Andrew Gaze, so it's only fitting he collected the NBL's highest individual honour named after his coach.
Bogut capped off a stellar maiden season with the Sydney Kings on Sunday night when he was named the NBL's MVP at a gala function at the Crown Casino in Melbourne.
The former NBA champion was voted the league's premier player by a select panel, plus the coaches and captains, taking home the Andrew Gaze Trophy.
Gaze won a record seven MVPs as a player with the Melbourne Tigers.
Bogut will now join his Kings' coach in the record books.
The former No. 1 draft pick is the first centre to win the NBL MVP since Chris Anstey at the Melbourne Tigers 12 seasons ago.
Bogut edged out Melbourne's Casper Ware and Perth's Bryce Cotton in one of the closest MVP races in history.
The Kings marquee man was considered the best due to his overall impact.
Bogut has transformed Sydney from league struggles to one of the contenders.
He has also helped the Kings go from the worst defensive team to one of the best.
It's why Bogut was also named Defensive Player of the Year.
He also played all 28 games for the Kings in the regular season while he led the league in rebounds and blocks.
Remarkably, he had 77 block shots in the regular season - the second best in Sydney franchise history behind Matt Nielsen, who had 89 blocks in 33 games in the 2003/2004 season.
Bogut was thrilled to win the NBL's highest individual honour but he has repeatedly said he'd prefer to win a championship.
In this regard, Sydney have every chance of achieving this goal.
The Kings will now meet archrivals Melbourne United in a semi-final series.
Game 1 in Melbourne is on Thursday, February 28 while the return bout in Sydney is on Sunday, March 3.
United will hold home court advantage if the series is levelled after they finished in second position.
Regardless, Sydney have qualified for the franchise's first finals campaign in six years.
The only concern for the Kings is the fitness of gun guard Jerome Randle, who missed the Cairns match with a quad injury.
But with the playoffs not starting until after the 10-day FIBA window, Randle is expected to be fit for Sydney's post-season campaign.
The Kings will head into the playoffs with plenty of confidence.
Skipper Kevin Lisch is in career-best shooting form while veteran swingman Brad Newley is also playing some of his finest basketball.
Sydney also possess impressive depth with the likes of Kyle Adnam, Daniel Kickert and American import Brian Bowen Jr.
The MVP race closed two weeks ago, meaning Bogut's standout performance against Cairns didn't count in the final decision.
Gaze admitted he'd like to see the NBL MVP voting extend to the entire regular season but he also understands the scheduling with this year's final match played only hours before the MVP awards night.
"But I still think there has still been a significant volume of work prior to the MVP closing that can make a difference in the outcome," he said.
Bogut also picked up NBL First-Team honours at the awards night.