Currently not a terrible memory

Back when Udoh was drafted, my reaction was to recoil like a dying armadillo:

“Udoh can’t be great–let’s hope he’s good. Initial dismay has given to misery. This wouldn’t have happened with Greg Monroe.”

“Misery” was harsh, especially since I’ve liked the recent Ekpe. If Shane Battier was the “No-Stats All-Star,” Udoh may yet become the “No-Stats, OK guy.” Ekpe’s PER is a lowly 9.47 and he’s averaging a mere 8.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per 40 minutes. In a small sample size, he’s been rebounding like Brook Lopez and scoring like Juwan Howard.

But somehow, his defense compensates. In the surprising victory against Chicago, Carlos Boozer was making light of David Lee’s existence with a flurry of rainbow set shots. Lee would close-out, but his hand was no match for the ball’s habitual trajectory.

Enter Ekpe.

Suddenly, indomitable Boozer couldn’t shoot–as in, he wasn’t able to get a shot off. Udoh was on Carlos near the perimeter, his wiry frame enveloping Boozer as though a fishing net had fallen on the Alaskan. I’ve never seen this from a rookie power forward, much less a Warriors rookie power forward. Guys who protect the rim usually lack the mobility to imitate Bruce Bowen far from the cup. Udoh is special in this respect.

The stats would support his defensive credentials. In the early going, the Warriors are -9.68 points better on defense when Udoh’s on the floor. In contrast, Golden State has been 10 points worse–per 100 possessions–when the high-scoring Ellis plays his interpretation of defense. I’m not saying that Monta Ellis is worse than Ekpe Udoh, just that Udoh’s meaningful contributions aren’t as obvious.

In last night’s game against the Nuggets, Ekpe failed to record a single point, rebound, assist, block, or steal during his 13 minutes of play. That was an atypically bad performance, but it was typical in that the Warriors gained five points with Udoh in the lineup. So, I’m happy to see the rookie play, especially when he covers for Lee’s defensive lapses.

I still wish the Dubs had selected Greg Monroe, though.

Twitter: @SherwoodStrauss

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8 Responses

  1. udoh hater

    you don’t use a 6th overall pick for a player who may be “good”, i said the monroe thing too and I stick by it, monroe was proven in college as a good passer, rebounded, and scorer, whereas udoh had ok offensive stats, and good defensive stats. You failed to add that monroe is playing amazing for a rookie in detroit. Also, we needed a center badly cause biedrins is terrible, but instead drafted a PF, the same year as we paid 80 million for a PF. I hate udoh so much because it would be a miracle that he would ever be above average in the NBA, and we could have got his type of player in the 2nd round or undrafted. The warriors could have had a very good team in years to come with curry, ellis, wright, lee, and monroe, instead we drafted another player based on his play in march madness( i.e patrick o bryant). Oh yeah and the great defensive player didnt rotate quick enough so jeff green got a wide open 3 and the thunder got back into the game, in the same game he got beaten by serge ibaka on a post up. Speaking of Serge Ibaka is is as good if not better defensively, incredibly better at offense and he got drafted 25th and udoh will never be close to as good as him(6th overall pick).

  2. freshdonuts

    i like seeing ep get in the game. at least we get a chance to see what we have. but what i want to see more of is B WRIGHT!
    like, he should be hitting the wood every night.
    anyone else agree?

  3. jims13

    This season-ticket holder says Udoh is and was a wasted draft pick; no way the W’s make the playoffs next year (forget this year !) with this guy in the starting five. And just because he was moderately effective vs. a lost-looking Chicago team is no reason to build a bandwagon for this guy. How about his panic-pass into Radmanovic’s face vs. (I think) San Antonio a couple of games ago ? . All he is good for is 3-4 quick fouls because of his clumsly footwork and a couple of clanks on offense a night. How they play this guy in front of Gadzuric is a complete mystery. Unless perhaps, there is a need to defend Riley’s horrilbe pick to ownership. G. Monroe was clearly the better choice, bigger, from a real basketball program, able to clog the lane for an otherwise defensively challenged team.

    This team is clearly in transition from the DNelson-style to (I guess) a more traditional defensive-oriented game; unless there is a major trade (i am not advocating this at all) we will have to put up with guys (DLee, MEllis, SCurry) who are defensively challenged. But, Udoh is not even close to a defensive-oriented player who can get them where they need to be or, anywhere near the playoffs.

  4. wayne winston

    UDoh has a defensive rating in Adjusted +/- of -11 points which is great. Warriors give up 11 less pts per 48 min with him in comapred to avg. NBA defender after adjusting for other 9 guys on court.

  5. Wbfree

    I love him. But he has to to get more aggressive offensively, particularly with his pretty good foul-line jumper.

  6. brgulker

    Saying he’s a “No Stats” guy really depends on which stats you want to examine. has counterpart production stats, which means you could compare Udoh’s production to that of the collective opposition he’s been matched up against if you really wanted to look whether or not his defense makes up for his lack of other production.

  7. bgalella

    Greg Monroe was the better choice, but you can’t write off Ekpe Udoh either, he’s still recovering from his wrist injury .

    • Steven R

      Greg Monroe was never the better choice! The problem is though Ekpe Udoh isn’t ready for the NBA. Defensively he’s impresses me, but offensively he’s just about worthless. Unfortunately for the Warriors they have no other big men that can allow him to develop in the D-League and for his rookie year he’s going to have his ups and downs.

      What one hopes is that if he catches the ball 18 feet from the hoop he’ll actually do something instead of just looking for someone to pass too and let the defense swarm him.