This was supposed to be the year where the Golden State Warriors would be able to get a franchise chip that would change their fortunes. Being decimated by injuries and having the third worst record late into the season, the perfect excuse to tank the remainder of the season was right there for the taking along with a top 3 pick. Don Nelson had other plans, however. Rather than winning and losing strategically to jostle for lottery position, the team went all out in an effort to get Coach Nelson the 'All-Time Wins Record.' As a result, the Warriors finished tied for the 4th worst record and less chances to remain in the top 3 to nab one of John Wall, Evan Turner, or Derrick Favors.
As luck would have it, the consensus evaluation of the draft class was that it was 5 deep, rounded off by Wesley Johnson and DeMarcus Cousins. Warriors ended up picking 6th. Such is the luck of a Cohan owned franchise. There were a couple of high upside picks like Al Farouq Aminu and Paul George, or skilled young bigs like Greg Monroe, but the Warriors opted to go for the 'safe', 'need' based pick. They selected Ekpe Udoh from Baylor - a 23 year old 'late-bloomer' who had a career year and lead his team to the Elite Eight before falling to the eventual NCAA champions, Duke. A majority of experts had Udoh pegged for a late lottery to mid-first round pick, but the Larry Riley and company were not able to trade down so that they could get their man and additional assets as well. They were stuck and had to 'reach' for Ekpe Udoh with the 6th overall selection.
If you could get past the fact that Udoh is already 23 years old (sat out a year after transferring from Michigan), one might be able to appreciate what he will bring to the Warriors. He's first and foremost known as an elite shot blocker (3.7 bpg). He's 6'-10" with a 7'-4.5" wingspan. He has great timing and the discipline to stay down until his man actually jumps, allowing him to stay out of foul trouble and in the game. He doesn't have elite athleticism, but he is quick and explosive enough to be a good post defender in the NBA. Udoh is agile enough to handle switches and to guard perimeter players at times.
Udoh is also a very good rebounder, good passer, has a developing face-up game with long range, and will perhaps be the Warriors best post scoring option come the opening of training camp. His work ethic and basketball IQ are strengths as well. He's known to be leader and a great addition to the locker room. Apparently, many scouts believe he still has significant upside despite his age.
The Ekpe Udoh pick might not be so bad afterall. When the pick was announced at the draft party in the Oracle Arena, the crowd expressed it's disapproval with load boos and groans. The consensus draft grade int the media is that the Warriors drafted poorly. Soon, Udoh will have his chance to win the fans and doubters over. We'll get our first real look verses NBA level competition in the Summerleague. Perhaps playing alongside a more talented cast will allow him to shine. In a system that could utilize his quickness and athleticism against the typical NBA bigs, Udoh may flourish as a valuable role player and possibly solid starter down the road. He's looking to get up to 250 lbs by training camp. With additional strength in his core and base, Udoh should be able to hold his own in the paint, even against average Centers.
SG: Ellis / Williams
SF: Randolph / Morrow
PF: Wright / Udoh
C: Biedrins / Turiaf
NBA Position: Power Forward
Hometown: Edmond, OK
High School: Santa Fe
Team Site Profile
NBA Comparison: Jerome Moiso/Chris Gatling
Strengths: Skilled power forward with a long, lean frame. Has a 7'4 1/2 wingspan ... Nicknamed "The Nightmare" for his demonic shot blocking prowess (3.7 per game as junior) ... Views swatting shots as an art form - always taking proper angles, never leaving his feet until his opponent does, can block shots with either hand and keeps balls in play ... Tremendous offensive rebounder as a result of his length and quickness off the floor (3.6 off, 9.8 total) ... Exhibits solid agility on the perimeter, able to stay in front of quicker guards on pick and roll switches ... Moves his feet well and lateral quickness is much improved ... Has made dramatic developments in his offensive repertoire since his sophomore season at Michigan ... Much more aggressive looking to score (14 ppg) ... Shows the ability to face up opponents with his quick first step and new and improved ball handling skills ... His passing ability and court vision have been a revelation, often acting as a facilitator in Baylor's offense (2.7 ast) ... Reads double teams well and finds the open man. His post skills are on the incline exhibiting solid foot work and a series of quick moves ... Prefers a one power dribble jump hook. Has nice touch on his short range and mid-range jumper ... Has shown flashes of range this season knocking down 7 three pointers. Shooting form is near textbook ... Runs the floor very well for a big. His work ethic can be easily detected in his development as a player in a short period of time ... Has developed some face the basket skills, but will never be confused for being a small forward ...
Weaknesses: Despite improvements, still has a very raw offensive game ... Has the skills, but many subtleties are not yet second nature. Not smooth in the post, often looking uncomfortable and indecisive on what move to attempt ... What is his offensive game? Can do a variety of things, but has no real go to move ... Has struggled with turnovers problems, attempting low percentage passes and overdribbling (2.4 to) ... Needs to add weight and get stronger, especially in his lower body ... Has difficulty holding his ground on defense and maintaining interior position on offense ... Does not finish plays through contact ... Only attempted 4.5 free throws per game last season ... A solid run/jump athlete but lacks explosiveness. Effort on the defensive backboard can be questioned- lackadaisical on box out assignments quite frequently ... Does not play with a killer instinct and needs to get tougher ... Will turn 23 in May making his upside somewhat limited. Ability to add significant strength at this stage of his development is doubtful.
Adam Ganeles 4/7/10
April 6, 2010
After surprising many with his development early this season, Ekpe Udoh has held pace all year long to finish out an impressive junior season, putting himself firmly in lottery discussions as the NCAA season comes to a conclusion.
One of the most important players on a Baylor team that made a strong run to the Elite Eight, Udoh brings a variety of skills to the table as a player, most of which he developed while sitting out a redshirt season after transferring from Michigan. As the season has gone on, Udoh has grown more comfortable in Baylor’s offense, and really opened up his game, contributing in a variety of areas on both ends of the court.
Offensively, one thing we didn’t touch on when we profiled Udoh in December was his passing game, something that became more prominent for Baylor’s offense as the season went on. Udoh dished out an impressive 2.7 assists per game, operating mostly out of both the high and low post, showing good court vision and the ability to hit both cutters and shooters for open looks. He shows a good feel for the game in general, something that’s become more apparent as the game slowed down for him as the year went on.
In terms of scoring the ball, Udoh does most of his damage out of the post, where he shows a very high level of fluidity and coordination, along with the ability to turn off either shoulder, though he clearly prefers going off his left. He even shows decent ability with his less dominant left hand scoring the ball, going to hook shots and lay-ups when the situation calls for it. He has a surprisingly good command of counter moves in the post, and transitions very well from one move to another looking for a high percentage shot.
At the basket, Udoh leaves some points on the floor at times, as despite being a very good overall athlete due to his mobility, fluidity, and coordination, he isn’t the toughest, most explosive or reactive player, not always elevating with great ease around the rim, and seemingly shying away from contact at times. He isn’t the greatest off his second bounce and he doesn’t have the make-up to explode up and overpower his man, though looking at him, you get the sense his lower body strength probably isn’t maxed out, and this is something he could improve with the right training.
Udoh is also a potent threat out of isolation situations, being able to utilize everything out of the triple-threat position, be it taking his man off the dribble, shooting a mid-range jumper, or passing to an open man. Udoh’s isolation game is very intriguing, as he shows nice footwork, a good first step, and a nice variety of moves, while finishing at a decent rate at this level.
His mid-range is also a pretty reliable weapon already, as he hit a respectable 0.85 points per shot on his 111 jump shots this season according to Synergy, with a good deal of them coming off the dribble or out of the triple-threat, with a defender on him. He hit seven three-pointers on the season, but that’s clearly a bit out of his comfort zone, though he does have nice range to 20 feet. Udoh’s shot is probably a bit too reliant on his upper body, and there’s reason to believe with some tweaks this could become an even better weapon for him.
On the glass, Udoh shows great instincts and pursuits on the offensive end, pulling in an impressive 3.6 offensive rebounds per game, frequently being right in the middle of the action around the rim, though his lack of a great second bounce doesn’t allow him to be the strongest finisher on putbacks.
Defensively, Udoh does a solid job on the glass, but could be a bit more aggressive in boxing out and doing some of the little things, something he’ll need to do to stay an above average defensive rebounder in the pros. He lacks some awareness at times on the glass and doesn’t appear to be the most contact loving big man around, getting outmuscled by stronger players and not always fighting back as much as you’d hope.
Udoh can do some impressive things on the defensive end, though, showing outstanding timing with his shot blocking and using his length very well. He’s a great shot blocker both in man-to-man situations in the post and coming over from the weakside, showing pretty good rotational awareness and doing a good job in general in Baylor’s zone.
As a man-to-man defender, Udoh plays to his strengths very well in the post, keeping his arms outstretched to force his man into tough shots, while also doing a good job moving his feet. He doesn’t have the greatest leverage, and is prone to being backed down by stronger opponents, but again, he probably can improve his lower body strength some.
On the perimeter, Udoh was rarely tested this season, and when he was, it was on switches with guards as opposed to going up against the stretch fours he’ll see in the NBA. Regardless, he looks out of sorts in his man-to-man stance on the perimeter, though his tools suggest he should be able to become at least adequate in this regard if he puts in the work to develop his fundamentals as he sees the situation more frequently.
Looking forward, Udoh is an intriguing prospect who looks likely to be drafted somewhere in the 10-20 range. He brings clear NBA skills to the table with his defense, shot-blocking, offensive rebounding, and developing post game, while also showing developing skills in multiple areas. That said, while the learning curve he’s shown over the last two years is very impressive, he will be 23 years old by the time the draft comes around, so teams may have mixed feelings on how much more potential he has, particularly from a physical standpoint.
Situational Statistics: This Year’s Power Forward Crop
June 14, 2010
Ekpe Udoh has developed into a highly versatile prospect in the past few seasons, but his situational efficiency still makes him look raw on paper.
Udoh’s 15.3 possessions per-game rank him above average in terms of usage, but his 0.885 PPP ranks him as the third least efficient player in our sample overall. Aside from his lack of efficiency, Udoh is a unique player in terms of where his shots come from. He’s able to step out to the midrange and make an impact while also displaying the length and fluidity to get to the rim.
Udoh ranks 5th in our sample in both jump shots per-game (3.4) and spot-up PPP at 1.08. He also used an impressive 14.1% of his offensive possessions in isolation situations, which would have ranked him right around average amongst small forwards. Udoh’s 0.831 points-per possession in isolation situations would have ranked him 8th amongst small forwards, and is a prime example of what he can bring to the table at the next level as a mismatch threat.
Some of Udoh’s overall inefficiency stems from the fact that he was often the one creating his own shots in Baylor’s offense and didn’t finish at a high rate. Nearly 54% of his offense came off post ups, isolations, or offensive rebounds, which is certainly impressive, but his 53.3% shooting in finishing situations is well below average. Udoh’s lack of physical strength, especially in his lower body, and average explosiveness, remain a concern moving forward. Udoh should benefit from having to shoulder less of a shot creating burden for himself in the future, but he still has a lot of room to add polish at age 23.
ESPN Draft Profile
Long, lanky shot blocker
Above average rebounder, especially on the offfensive glass
Good athlete with solid leaping ability
Improving offensive player
Has a solid midrange game
Can even shoot the three in limited circumstances
Still a little raw offensively
Needs to improve basketball IQ
Needs to get stronger
Needs to improve lateral quickness
May 27 Update: (In Chad Ford's Mock Draft 3.0, Udoh went No. 14 to the Rockets) Udoh is the type of long, shot-blocking forward who should find a comfortable home in Houston. While he's a bit older than the rest of the class and doesn't have elite athleticism, he's still improving -- one of the few older players in the draft with any real upside left. Patrick Patterson and Hassan Whiteside are other possibilities here.
Draft Report: Ekpe Udoh Of Baylor
By: Christopher Reina
June 2, 2010 1:08 AM
Over the course of the past few months, I've seen a lot of Ekpe Udoh and I still can't decide what kind of NBA player he will become. I don't typically waver, trusting first impressions above anything else. My projection range on him goes from good locker room guy who can give about a dozen decent minutes of defense off the bench to a purely complementary starter on a team that has loaded with skilled players at the other positions, particularly center.
He had a great block rate both at Michigan in 07-08 and after his transfer to Baylor this past year, blocking 3.7 blocks in 35.1 minutes per game. He is an older prospect and should be able to make an impact defensively immediately.
Udoh's most unique ability to block shots is he has excellent innate timing instincts. He doesn't get easily baited on pump fakes and he will get up quickly and get up long once the shooter commits.
Udoh played the back middle slot in Baylor's 2-3 zone frequently, which makes defense less challenging for shotblocker, but he is by no means merely an off-ball shotblocker. He seems to be especially skilled at blocking the shot on-ball of players in the post, something he numerously did against Duke in the Elite 8.
Udoh also exhibits good toughness taking charges, an indicator of his blue collar approach to the game that also is palpable after talking to him for just a few minutes.
When defending perimeter shooters, his balance trying to block shoots looks painfully bad. He also hasn't really been tested in game situations to defend the pick and roll when he will be required to switch onto guards that will look to exploit any deficiencies in his lateral quickness.
His combination of wing span, natural instinct and desire, however, forecast Udoh becoming well above average defensively.
On the offensive end, Udoh has the look and feel of a feast or famine case. He seems to look more agile offensive with the ball in his hands and becomes a smooth player when he gets into space. Udoh is by no means a natural scorer, but he does posses some soft touch around the bucket when he does have space. He also will use the glass when the situation calls for it.
He is somewhat surprisingly skilled at going from a spin move into a shot, but his basic footwork with the pivot is still very rudimentary. He has good natural instincts and is fairly effective overall in the post when he keep things basic. Overall, the low post offensive is a bit of a rollercoaster for Udoh.
Moving out to the mid-post, Udoh seems to be more comfortable than in the low-post. He has some nice pre-dribble moves there, whether it is a ball fake or jab step. His rise over defenders in the mid-post is particularly impressive and he will use his height well here, as he also does in the low post.
As a jump shooter, Udoh is infinitely more effective when he gets clean looks. When contested, Udoh is categorically not a good jump shooter. His range will extend to about 15 feet and he has clearly demonstrated the ability to improve this facet of his game, evidenced by how substantially his free throw percentage improved out of his transfer year. He is not incapable of making college three-pointers, but it is a last resort type of attempt at best.
Fighting for post position isn't something Udoh was really asked to do much considering his role in the offense, but he did do a consistently good job of sealing his defender in transition to post up in early offense, something that is too rare for players of all ages and abilities.
While his offensive game will decidedly be a work in progress and will require his team to be especially strong in player development to enhance his natural abilities and strong work ethic, rebounding will be another instant area of contribution.
Udoh has a great motor, which is frequently the most important asset to have, but he also has that great reach and excellent anticipation of where the ball is going before it goes there. He is particularly gifted as an offensive rebounder, where it is doubly difficult to board at a high clip. He lacks some touch on his put backs off offensive boards, which would make scoring exponentially easier on him. His inability to be an efficient scorer in this specific area of his game on the college level could be a preview of even worse struggles in the NBA. For players with his skill set, put backs are the easiest way to score after the open lob.
In the NBA, Udoh's offensive boards will probably be more apt to rest the offense than lead to easy buckets for himself.
Looking for All-Star upside alone, Udoh won't infatuate anybody, but there is enough remnant potential to expect something above a mere specialized rotation contributor.
Ekpe Udoh's NBA journey improbable - NewsOK
Warriors take a look at Baylor's Udoh - Bay Area Newsgroup
New Warrior Ekpe Udoh shrugs off bad reviews - SF Chronicle