After listening to Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli over the loudspeakers during their conference calls at Warriors headquarters, and knowing what Draymond Green brings to the table, one thing is clear — the Warriors are more than slightly interested in character and intelligence. They were also keen on bringing in a small forward and improving their defense and rebounding, but attitude and mental acuity weren’t far behind.
With the 30th pick of the NBA Draft…
Ezeli, a very good shot-blocker and defender at Vanderbilt who also happens to have a wingspan over 7′ 5″, graduated from high school in Nigeria when he was 14. He moved to Sacramento to live with his uncle, a pediatrician. At least based on what people are saying here, a Cliffs Notes version of Ezeli’s scouting report might look like this:
“Bigger Ekpe Udoh, only less in the way of offensive skill.”
That’s not an insult. Udoh’s defense was more than welcome during his short Warriors tenure, and he had the plus/minus numbers to prove it. Ezeli’s length makes him a true backup center, however, while Udoh was a power forward based to play the 5 due to circumstances beyond his control (the Warriors’ only other center was Andris Biedrins). Like Udoh, Ezeli doesn’t quite bring the rebounding numbers one might like (about 9 rebounds per 36 minutes throughout his college career).
Hopefully for the Warriors, Ezeli brings the best of Udoh’s game without the worst of Adonal Foyle’s.
What about Jeremy Tyler, you ask? I agree with Tim Kawakami’s analysis: “I think (Ezeli) immediately comes in ahead of Jeremy Tyler and it’s up to Tyler to win any minutes in the rotation.”
With the 35th pick of the NBA Draft…
Green, a SF/PF who grabbed 10.6 rebounds per game last year for Michigan State, has the “high basketball IQ” label the Warriors seem to be looking for. Green’s also a good passer, averaging about 4 assists per game during his junior and senior seasons. He also comes in behind Barnes and David Lee, and he’s aware of that fact. “I’m probably going to come off the bench, but that’s fine,” Green said on his conference call.
The Warriors also chose Ognjen Kuzmic with pick No. 52, a center from Bosnia and Herzegovina who the Warriors will allow to continue playing in Spain. Last season Kuzmic averaged 10.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 2.2 bpg for Clinicas Rincon (Spanish LEB Gold).
One of the more interesting parts of this little extravaganza here in Oakland was when Bob Myers went on ESPN, presumably to talk about the Warriors’ draft picks. Myers talked about how they’re smart players, “high character” guys, all that. He talked about how they’re trying to “change the culture” in Golden State. Then Rece Davis finished the interview by asking Myers about the report today that came out of The Smoking Gun.
For those who haven’t heard, “Mark Jackson was the target of a recent extortion plot allegedly hatched by an ex-stripper with whom he carried on an extramarital affair and shared photos of his genitalia.” Yep, another Monta Ellis situation (only without the workplace harassment element). Myers responded through gritted teeth that he knows Jackson personally, and will always stand by him. Interview over.
The Warriors have to be happy that they added athleticism and scoring (Barnes), defense and size (Ezeli), a smart rebounder (Green), and a Euro to stash overseas (Kuzmic). But the interview showed one thing — it takes more than new faces, righteous words and good intentions to change what people say about the Warriors.
But you already knew that.