Golden State Warriors: 4 Reasons to Sign Kyrylo Fesenko
Am I crazy for thinking Kwame Brown’s injury is the reason the Warriors are not in playoff position? That’s right, possibly the biggest No. 1 pick bust ever, Kwame Brown.
The Golden State Warriors are getting beat up in the post without him. Fortunately, low-risk center Kyrylo Fesenko is still an available free agent.
The Warriors desperately need a big man with Kwame Brown gone for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Brown might not be the most athletic or talented center in the league, but he is a big body. He defends his man well and does not require help, even against the league elites like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. His post-presence is missed and will have to be replaced.
Kyrylo Fesenko is the perfect candidate for the Warriors. The front office nearly signed him but withdrew the offer to keep an extra guard on the roster. To remain competitive, the team should revisit the idea of signing Fesenko, and following are four reasons why.
Andris Biedrins Is Awful
The Warriors' starting center, Andris Biedrins, may have had his body hijacked by aliens. The Latvian center reminds me of Edgar from Men in Black, the clumsy alien masquerading as a human.
After a couple of nagging injuries and another embarrassing season from the charity stripe, the once confident Biedrins is now a shell of an NBA player. He has made a total of one free throw and is scoring a career low 2.3 points per game this season.
While Biedrins’ defense and rebounding are still respectable, he cannot stay on the floor long enough for the team to benefit. His limited minutes are partly the fault of rookie coach Mark Jackson's rotation and partly because of foul trouble. In his last two games, he collected a total of 10 fouls in 36 minutes of play.
Tonight against the Indiana Pacers, I’ll be watching Biedrins when he is on the bench to see if he asks for water with sugar, lots of sugar, instead of Gatorade.
Backup Center Ekpe Udoh Is Not a True Center
The current backup center is Ekpe Udoh. While Udoh can certainly handle center duties, he is a natural power forward. At 6’10” and 245 pounds, Udoh is not stout enough to match up with the Howards, Hibberts and Bynums of the league. To be fair, very few are.
The numbers from 82 games bear this out. Udoh defends opposing power forwards better than opposing centers. When playing at the four, Udoh gives up 2.5 fewer points, 2.2 fewer rebounds and 13.3 shooting percentage points when normalized to 48 minutes played.
Udoh continues to grow as a defensive presence. His shot-blocking ability from college has translated well to the pros and he may well become a quality, consistent starter. In his lone start this season, Udoh scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
A rotation of Udoh and Kyrylo Fesenko would bring much needed size and defense down low.
Kyrylo Fesenko Signing Is Low-Risk
The Warriors nearly signed Kyrylo Fesenko in December. According to Sports Illustrated, they agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.07 million before the Warriors pulled the plug on the deal.
In a candid interview with Fast Break, Joe Lacob revealed the team's future financial plans. Warrior executives smartly wish to keep cap space open for next year’s class of free agents.
Without re-signing any expiring contracts, the front office has approximately $12 million in cap space to maneuver with. That amount allows the team the option of signing a “difference maker,” to re-sign solid bench players like Brandon Rush, or, ideally, do both.
Signing Fesenko to a low-cost, one-year deal does not affect the team’s cap flexibility for next season. With Brown out until at least April, cutting him and signing Fesenko is a no-brainer.
The only possible concern is needing Brown if the Warriors sneak into the playoffs. Without another big man, though, the Warriors don’t stand a chance of that ever happening.
Fesenko is cheap and effective. He rebounds well, at a rate of 8.6 per 36 minutes, and hustles on defense. According to 82 Games, his team collects 7.3 percent more rebounds when he is on the floor.
While he’s only averaged 8.3 minutes per game throughout his four-year career, he was an integral part of Utah’s playoff success in 2010 after Mehmet Okur went down with an injury. In the first round, the Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets in six games with Fesenko as their starting center.
Not bad for a relatively unknown center. After the fourth game of the series, Melo remarked, "Fesenko? Fesenko? Don't get me wrong. He's playing extremely well. He's playing with a lot of confidence. But Fesenko?''
With Brown injured and an invisible Biedrins, the Warriors have no true center. The 7'1", 300-pound Fesenko is one player worth another look.