Center Andrew Bogut let out a yawp that appears to have reverberated for 2,200 miles Monday night.

After rejecting DeMar DeRozan's layup attempt and then sending away Aaron Gray's point-blank shot 37 seconds later in Toronto, Bogut released the thunderous bellow.

The defensive sequence and enthusiasm were a nice reminder of the raised expectations the Warriors brought into this season, before Bogut missed most of the first half while recovering from left ankle surgery. The team was solidly in playoff position without Bogut, so how good could they be with him?

The Chronicle asked this question to 21 media members who regularly cover the team, and 17 thought the over-achieving team could accomplish more on some level with Bogut in the middle.

What's the ceiling?

"Championship, mind-melting as it is to admit that," said Ethan Sherwood Strauss, who covers the NBA for Bleacher Report, ESPN and Warriors World.

OK, Strauss was the only one going that far, but still ...

The 7-footer, who had missed 38 games to further rehabilitate his ankle, made an obvious and immediate impact in his first game back, a 114-102 victory over Toronto. The ball movement was better, and he drew enough attention in the offensive post to create space for the Warriors' three-point shooters. He discouraged opponents from driving into the lane and punished those who went against their first inkling.

"We are a different basketball team with him in the lineup because of his ability to defend; catch, finish and make plays; rebound; set screens and complement everybody on the floor," head coach Mark Jackson said. "The game is much easier for us when he's out there.

"He has a high IQ and understands what we're trying to do. It's scary when you put him in the lineup, because of all of the weapons we have and how we can utilize them."

Longtime Bay Area columnist Art Spander was working for The Chronicle when the Warriors last won a championship (1974-75). He is skeptical that Bogut will be fully healthy at any point this season, but he believes the Warriors could advance to the Western Conference finals if it happens.

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