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New Warrior Ekpe Udoh: Stacking Up Against The Competition

Gerard DContributor IJune 26, 2010

A couple of days after the Golden State Warriors drafted Ekpe Udoh at number six in the 2010 NBA draft and a day after his official introduction to the Bay Area press; I find that most GSW fans and bloggers are still seething with angst and displeasure. Is this another draft day bust for the Golden State Warriors? Most Warriors fans would definitely and emphatically say so. Is this Patrick O’Bryant part 2? Well, that might be too pessimistic. Perhaps this might be the second coming of Ike Diogu? Nah! Maybe somewhere along the lines of a Tyrus Thomas? Quite Possibly. Many would argue that Udoh’s skills and upside are somewhat fitting for the 11th or even the 15th pick. Even the pro-basketball analysts suggested that Larry Riley should have traded down and possibly have dumped the salary of Andris Biedrins in the process and still be able to pick up a solid veteran and nab Udoh within the 11th and 15th pick. Another suggestion was that the Warriors could have selected the best passer in the draft in Power Forward, Greg Monroe. I just think that Larry Riley (just like me) may have not fallen into the hype surrounding Greg Monroe as much as the others have. Greg Monroe has all the right tools but he is definitely not a whole much better player than Udoh. There is definitely a lot more to be coveted for the number 6 pick but after the top five players were selected, it’s really anybody’s guess what they are getting from pick 6th to the 30th. With that said, I would like to make a case for Ekpe Udoh and hope that some non-believers may find the reason to be optimistic about this kid’s potential.

Let’s take a look at what some of the experts had to say about Ekpe Udoh:

Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com detailed Udoh's various talents offensively:

"It's Udoh's work ethic at the offensive end that has made him a weapon all over the floor and has propelled him up NBA draft boards. He uses a nifty jump hook in the lane and is effective with his back to the basket or facing it. He can step out and bury the midrange jumper and even, as Kansas' coach Bill Self said, can hit a 3-pointer. He's made 5 of 14 this season.

He has also developed excellent ball-handling skills, allowing him to take his man off the dribble and create for himself, a rare quality for a big man. He's gone to the free throw line a team-high 87 times.

He also sees the floor well. Rarely is the power forward a team's second-leading assist-maker. But Udoh is, averaging just shy of three a game.

"He has incredible basketball intelligence, he's underrated as a passer, and he's a kid that really knows the game and appreciates the nuances and finer points of the game," Former Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker said. "He's a crafty kind of player. I don't always think you use those kinds of words or phrases or compliments for a kid that's a power forward. I always marveled at that with him."

 

Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News talked about Udoh's attention the less glamourous side of the game:

"Udoh (...) loves to play defense and has a passion for it few players possess.
"There's something about stopping somebody, it just gets me going," Udoh said during a media session at Thursday's NBA draft combine.
“Just his mind-set about defense, and his passion for denying points, shows he's different than the typical basketball player.”
"Defense wins championships and it's something that I love," said Udoh, who averaged 9.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks (along with 13.9 points) at Baylor last season. "Getting that critical stop. Just blocking a shot, it gets everybody going."'

Next, let’s take a look at how he stacked up against the other top Centers and Forwards in the 2010 draft by evaluating their statistics from the 2009-2010 NCAA season.

PLAYEREKPE UDOHGREG MONROEDERRICK FAVORSDEMARCUS COUSINS
MIN35.134.227.523.5
PTS13.916.112.415.1
REB9.89.68.49.8
AST2.73.811
TO2.43.32.52.1
A/T1.111.140.410.49
STL0.81.20.91
BLK3.71.52.11.8
PF2.42.62.63.2
FG%49%53%61%56%
FT%69%66%63%60%
3P%27%26% 17%
PPS1.281.431.531.56
GP36343638
MIN12641164989893
FG191202179206
FGA390385293369
FTM11113890162
FTA162209143268
3PM77 1
3PA262716
PTS500549448575
OFF12974108154
DEF222254195220
TOT351328303374
AST971283738
TO871129078
STL29423237
BLK133527467
PF878794122
PF - Personal Fouls
PPS - Points Per Shot  

If the numbers prove anything, perhaps Ekpe Udoh has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe and Demarcus Cousins. He is just as tall (at 6'8.75) as Derrick Favors and even has a .5 advantage on his wingspan at 7'4.5 compared to Favors' 7'4. He also has good court vision and above average passing abilities. He averaged 2.7 assists per game which doesn't really say all that much if we compare it to Monroe's 3.8 average, but it's a whole lot better than Favors' average of 1 AST/G and Cousins' average of 1 AST/G. What is even more impressive is that, even though Udoh is considered a defensive specialist (Big 12 leading 3.7 blocks per game), he only had 87 personal fouls the entire season which is just as much as Monroe's and less than Cousins' 122 and Favors' 94 who are all not as active on defense as Udoh.  His rebounding average of 9.8 per game is dead even with Cousins and his rebounding total of 351 for the season is right behind Cousins' 374. He can shoot the mid-range jumper or even all the way out to the college three point line. Overall, he can do things that Monroe can. He can rebound, pass to and out of the post, shoot from the inside and the outside but he does a couple more things better than Monroe. Udoh is an instinctive and versatile defender. He can defend the rim or out on the perimeter. He is more athletic than Monroe and Cousins and maybe just as athletic as Favors. His game may not resemble any established NBA player but if we are to pick one player to compare Udoh’s skills to, it might be Kevin Garnett. I know! What am I talking about, Right? Just in the sense that, like KG, Udoh plays both sides of the court. I am not saying that he will be the next franchise changer or the next “Big Ticket” but he certainly has more promise than most people think. People are also saying that he is similar to Brandan Wright and Anthony Ranholph but I beg to differ. I think another intriguing aspect of drafting Udoh is (if at any consolation at all) that he is more NBA ready coming in to the NBA than Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright were. He is more matured than Randolph and perhaps more multifaceted than Wright.   

There is definitely a lot more to Ekpe Udoh than everybody else think. He may not be the franchise changing forward that everybody was hoping for but he is still a solid pick for the Warriors. Now if only Larry Riley can just make magic happen by doing the unthinkable and trade for an upcoming Superstar or an All Star player.

 

 

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