By: Abe Chong

With the sixth overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft, I got kind of mad that we passed over a polished Greg Monroe and drafted a long, athletic forward/center type. Did we not learn our lesson about these types with Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, or even Biedrins? Now that I’ve watched him play throughout the season, I’m starting to wonder what will become of our lottery pick.

One of his knocks coming into the draft was that he was already 23 years old. He has Greg Oden-itis, looking twice his age, but 23 is still young, you guys. At 6’10” and 240 pounds, Udoh has a frame that looks like he’ll probably fill out a bit more as he matures. And to quote more scouting clichés, the kid has got excellent athleticism and a good motor.

“Motor” seems to be a scouting buzzword that’s caught on in the past two years — it basically means that a player tries really, really hard all the time. They’re the most annoying players to play against because all the frenzied running around is pretty freaking anxiety-inducing. Joakim Noah, Tyler Hansborough and Anderson Varejao are all players defined by a “non-stop motor.”

Udoh’s got that motor, and that’s something that I like — the dude is always trying hard. That’s something you want to see from your rookies because it shows passion for the game. When you combine his motor with his size and athleticism, you could have something special. Operative word being “could.”

Because although he’s got some promise, there’s still a very alarming characteristic about Udoh: his inability to grab boards. If you draft a big man sixth overall, you want to see flashes of rebounding dominance in the rookie season. Want to know how many double-digit rebound games Ekpe’s got? Zero. On Sunday against Dallas, Biedrins sat out with a sprained ankle, Udoh started and promptly grabbed ONE rebound in 30 minutes. One. rebound.

Ok, so he’s not gonna be Dwight Howard. But wouldn’t another Joakim Noah be nice? In Noah’s rookie season, he snagged himself a 20-rebound game a helped himself to a couple sides of 15 and 13-rebound games. That’s some sweet per-minute productivity to start baking in your rookie season. Yet Udoh’s played 25-30 minutes a good amount of times, and has failed to register more than seven rebounds. He doesn’t score much either — his hook shot looks like an arm violently vomiting a basketball.

So what can this guy do? He blocks shots like Casey Heynes bodyslams bullies yo. The dude could challenge for the league lead in blocks if he played 35 minutes a game for an entire season. That’s a premium skill.

Shotblocking requires exceptional timing — there are plenty of tall athletic players that get this down. It also electrifies crowds, ignites teams and can single-handedly change a game defensively. But when that’s everything you’ve got, your ceiling is Theo Ratliff, who averaged nearly four blocks a game but just eight rebounds during his peak.

I guess having a Ratliff would be kind of cool, but even in his prime you wouldn’t expect Ratliff to be a premium center on a contending team. There’s been plenty of offensively challenged centers that anchored great teams. Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo even Tyson Chandler has made a huge impact for the Mavericks this season. But all those guys were good rebounders from their rookie seasons, which makes me worry about Udoh.

As much as it sucks to say it, I think the most likely scenario is Ekpe becomes another Chris Andersen — a guy that you bring in for 15 minutes a game to bring the energy and swat shots for the highlight reel. A necessary player, but not the guy that’s going to give you 35 solid minutes night in and night out. Bummer.


12 Responses

  1. Benny

    I haven’t been that impressed with Udoh either, but I think if the warriors could do the draft over again it would still be a good pick. Let’s face it, it was just a pretty weak draft class. John Wall was going number 1 no matter what, Derrick Favors was never going to drop to number 7, and neither was Demarcus Cousins (and he’s got an attitude problem anyway). I mean maaaaybe you could say Gordon Haywood would’ve been a better pick or possibly Cole Aldrich just because the warriors need size and he was a productive center at Kansas. Maybe Eric Bledsoe, in hindsight? But other than that they took a good player from a good program at a bad spot in a mediocre draft. I for one can’t really get too bummed about that.

  2. Daniel

    Yes, the rebounding…er, or lack thereof…is very worrisome. I do get that part of it is him selling out defensively and thus not being in prime rebound position, but as you brought up, there are just too many players that block/change shots and still find a way to rebound.

    The offensive game…er, or lack thereof…is also very worrisome. I don’t really care how it looks, really…it’s just that he misses. A lot. He needs that hook shot to be something consistent, and he needs that 12-14 foot jumper he likes to occasionally go in. Being that he’s only 23, I don’t worry about him having an offensive skill set as stunted as say, Lou Amundson, but at the moment it just doesn’t look like he’ll be much better, either.

  3. bgalella

    Greg Monroe is a solid player, but he did seem to take plays off while at Georgetown. Ekpe Udoh can be a solid player, but I don’t think he’ll do anything more than 15 points and 7 rebounds during his career.

  4. WarriorsGo

    I think Udoh has tremendous upside to his game and I disagree with u about his hook shot. Udoh may not get as many rebounds as u want him to, but if u watch the game u will see that he boxes out his man and many times that leads to one of our gaurds getting the rebound. Hes not going to be a big stat guy, but his presense changes the game drastically. The kid hasnt even played in summer league, give him a break. Back to his hook shot. Udohs hook shot with be his go to move and will improve with practice and even now hes missing shots that roll off the rim. Its not like hes bricking everything he throws up. What Udoh needs to work on is keeping his hands up ready to catch and dunk and keeping his hands up for rebounds. Easy fixes and will help him. I like Udoh and think he can be a starting Center in this league.

  5. Webberscurse

    In a game where the Warriors lost by 30 points. Ekpe was only minus 1…..It’s a trend with him, that even though the stat line appears weak (except for blocks), the plus minus numbers always seem to be pretty good with him. It’s not tru of everyone of his games, but a clear trend in his young career.

    We all want the kid to rebound better, and I think the team has rebounded decently with him on the floor. I think the fact that he keeps his arms down when the ball goes up, is a correctable flaw. He needs to block off with one arm and get the other one high in the air. He also needs to learn the art of tipping the ball to any area where you can grab it.

    He’s got lots to learn for sure, but in the most important area of team need (Defense), he’s our best player hands down.

  6. Flashfire

    I just can’t get past the one rebound in 30 minutes thing last night

    You almost can’t grab just one rebound in 30 minutes if you TRIED. This guy has zero use to the Warriors if all he’s good for is a little energy and blocking a few shots while playing little over a quarter a game. That’s not what you’re hoping for in a 6th pick.

    Adonal Foyle has had a few games where he played 30+ minutes and grabbed under five boards, but in most of them at least he’s been close to double digits when he played that much AND he got blocks to go with them.

    Yes, it’s very early in his career, but at this point Udoh’s not even looking like he’ll reach a Foyle level. At least Foyle was only picked 8th.

    Oh, wait. Oops.