Ekpe Udoh: Difference-Maker

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Fans of the Milwaukee Bucks are probably pretty happy with Tuesday’s trade after their team’s 120-98 win in Golden State on Friday. Monta Ellis helped his new team score 120 points on his old team and keep pace with the New York Knicks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Ellis is the biggest name from the five-player deal that got the trade season started. Andrew Bogut, if healthy, is the best player. But the other guy the Bucks got (not the expiring contract of Kwame Brown) in the deal was the one with the best numbers.

No, I’m not talking about points, rebounds or assists.

Ekpe Udoh averaged just 4.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 96 games for Golden State. But the Warriors, who were 45-51 in games Udoh played, outscored their opponents by an incredible 255 points in Udoh’s 1,856 minutes, and were outscored by 512 in his 3,944 minutes on the bench.

The advanced numbers show that Golden State was much better on both ends of the floor when Udoh was in the game.

Warriors efficiency with Udoh on and off the floor, last two seasons (prior to trade)

Udoh on/off floor MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
On floor 1,856 94.7 107.8 99.6 +8.2 +255
Off floor 3,944 97.3 103.5 109.6 -6.1 -512

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Ellis was the Warrior teammate who shared the floor most with Udoh. The two were a plus-179 in 1,270 minutes together. Without Udoh, Ellis was a minus-465 in 3,322 minutes with the Warriors over the last two seasons.

What’s funny is that Udoh was the No. 6 pick of the draft less than two years ago. His box-score numbers didn’t stand out, but the most important numbers in basketball are the ones on the scoreboard. And you have to wonder why the Warriors gave up on a young and athletic big man, who has more than two years left on his rookie contract and who made such a difference when he played.

Compare Udoh to Andris Biedrins, who is a minus-301 over the last two seasons for the Warriors and is owed $9 million each of the next two seasons. No team is taking that burdensome contract in a trade and the Warriors could have used the amnesty clause to waive Biedrins back in December. Instead, they chose to use it on Charlie Bell, who had a $4.1 million contract this season. Three months later, they traded Udoh.

Check out our offseason stats review of the Warriors for more on Biedrins’ negative impact (under Compatibility in the backcourt?).

Ultimately, how we view the Bucks-Warriors trade might depend on Bogut’s effectiveness when he returns from his broken ankle. But no matter how well Bogut recovers from his injury, the Warriors will probably regret giving up on a young difference-maker like Udoh.

Oh yeah, in his first game with the Bucks, Udoh was 0-for-2 from the field with four rebounds … and was a plus-10.


  1. ollie boombayay says:

    Good call on Udoh as a difference maker because you don’t even have to know the +/- stats to know that his hustle impacts the game. Just watch him play Maybe he was just a victim of expectations of being drafted too high, but I was surprised the Bucks were able to pry him away from the W’s. I think a huge factor was how Golden State got dissed in their quest for a starting center last off season. Came up empty on Nene, Deandre Jordan, and Tyson Chandler. The Bay is by no means small market so it was a little surprising. I guess they figured that a solid defensive PF is easier to find than a top ten center.

  2. That is a sweet dunk. Michael jordan was a sweet dunker. Hopefully, he can turn his dunking skills into hardware.

  3. Redmond says:

    Ok guys, I see all u crying about “Oh no we lost monta ellis, and ekpe udoh” these players were fantastic yes, but with the leagues big men dwindling, acquiring bogut at any costs was necessary especially because we have possible rookie of the year/allstar klay thompson on the bench… bogut will bring defense and that lost post scoring the warriors have needed lately for that run at the playoffs they have been dreaming of. with a scary deep lineup like the warriors starting next season, the playoffs will be no problem for Golden State.
    1 Curry
    2. Thompson
    3. Wright
    4 Lee
    5 Bogut
    6 Robinson
    7 Jefferson
    8 Rush

    this lineup will carry the warriors into the warriors.

  4. BULLS2012 says:

    I have the Bucks taking the eighth spot in the playoffs and play chicago in 1st round and lose in sweep…THe bucks are still couple years until they can atleast compete with the bulls heat orlando and okc..Ellis for boggut best trade ever for bucks

  5. Wurtzburg Joe says:

    Who is better is a useless question. I am happy the Dubs traded Monta, he is a great player but the Warriors don’t need him as much as a big. Sure the backcourt will slow down some, but they will finally have the presence the need in the paint to win more constantly, or to be any kind of conternder. I am bummed that Udoh had to go, I think he’s going places, he will be the kind of player that can help any team.

  6. Musing says:

    I don’t think the +/- system is the best way to look at Udoh’s potential and is in this case, somewhat misleading. We don’t know if Udoh was on the floor when the other team’s reserves were playing; we don’t know if Udoh got garbage minutes when the Warriors were getting blown out; and we don’t know who else was on the floor with Udoh (for the sake of team chemistry). I do know however that when the games were just couple of possessions apart and in the closing minutes, Udoh did not get much (if any at all) playing time.

    Now obviously, it’d be foolish to throw in a developing player during the most crucial moments of the game but honestly, those minutes would have probably been the best indicator of Udoh’s contributions on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, Udoh has a lot of potential. His defensive instincts are there (and can improve with development); his offense however has lots of room for improvement. Because of this, I wouldn’t say he is necessarily the biggest “difference maker” and I wouldn’t point to the numbers as evidence of his potential. After all, they don’t necessarily reveal everything about a player even though most people tend to point to these figures as a indicator of any player’s skill.

    As far as who the biggest “difference maker” WILL be, it’s too early to tell. If Bogut stays healthy (I think gravity and injuries may win out on this one) and Curry’s ankles remain intact, then the former might be the “biggest difference”. Or if by some miracle, the Bucks win the title (or even advance past the first round against the Bulls), then maybe Ellis would deserve that title (especially if he and Jennings and gel). Or perhaps, if Udoh gets more consistent and valuable minutes, then he may just be (like the author stated) the “difference maker”. Like I said, it’s too early to tell.

    For the All Stars, you have to remember that 1) it’s based on coaches’ 2) and fan votes and people are easily swayed by however the media portrays certain players. In many cases, it’s just a popularity contest with players from larger markets getting way more attention than they deserve sometimes. Not everyone on that roster deserved a spot and there were plenty of snubs such as Josh Smith (straight robbery), Rudy Gay, Monta Ellis, Nikola Pekovic (for the Rising Stars), Brandon Jennings (Bucks are playoff contenders because of this guy), Kyle Lowry (same as Jennings, playoff contention) etc that are comparable if not better than some of the players who were selected.

  7. Jandy says:

    Bucks may be a playoff team but not a contender for championship. Jennings and Ellis won’t work for the longest time and the Bucks will be a team who is short-handed in the frontcourt position. They might win games but not championships.

    • Uwa says:

      bucks, locked themselves into being a 8th spot team. you can depend on ellis and jennings who just shoots the ball plus your best player downlow is gooden, who doesn t defend any shots.. i don t know, it will be hard for them.

  8. Fefe says:

    Randeligan… you’re most useless.
    And yes when he was selected, Nash was in a losing team. So did Ellis. But tell me, who has the best season??? Steve Nash hands down. And his team is better. So all in all, at the end, Nash deserves the nod more than Ellis.

    I hope Ellis will be an All-Star anyway because he gets overlooked like every Warrior.
    Antawn Jamison never made the AS squad when he was in Golden State, but he did deserved to do one.
    J-Rich did deserve to be in the ASG at least once, but never did.
    Ellis never did it.
    Even Dampier, I remember, had a huge season back in the day and was the 2nd best center in the league before the ASG, but never did it.

    Seems like coaches don’t like the Golden State Warriors!

  9. David says:

    Bogut when healthy is the best player hands down. Scoring guards whilst a commodity are not as rare as a true 7 footer.

  10. Ron says:

    Healthy or otherwise Bogut is NOT THE BEST PLAYER. Monta Ellis is. He maybe more functional or smarter but not better. He is in no way shape or form a difference maker. An although he puts up stats of rebounds and blocks he has no impact on the Bucks fortunes at all BECAUSE HE CAN’T STAY HEALTHY. nor does he expand his game….I know. He maybe one of the most overrated players in the NBA when healthy. He is not enough of a force on offense. Yes he can board but all guys 7 foot should be able to. And guards run into most of his blocks he is not intimidating or a s warmer like Howard, Ibaka, D. Jordan or McGee.

    • Uwa says:

      what does monta ellis do? he just shoots and he misses. it is not hard to be more valuable than a guy who is that inefficient. if he is healthy bogut is the best player in that trade hands down. howard, bynum, marc gasol, noah, gortat, jefferson, hibbert, monroe and thats about it, there are not many centers in nba, but you can draft in any draft a player like monta ellis.

    • anchorman says:

      Bogut when healthy is easily the best of the bunch. That season where he got his big injury (09/10) he was having a career year and was easily the bucks MVP. He was a dynamo on offence and defence. His defensive abilities especially were at the time second only to Dwight Howard. Don’t believe me? Ask David Aldridge a respected Journalist for NBA.com – even he said that for the second half of that season Bogut was the best centre in the Eastern Conference full stop.

      The following year his offence dropped off but then who could blame him after such a horrific injury and even with a bum elbow he still averaged 12rpg and led the league in blocks! That’s a hell of a feat. No one on that organisation, not even Skiles could deny that he was the MVP of a team that despite being riddled with injuries is always on the cusp of making the playoffs. You can’t lead the lead in blocks without being blessed with the same athleticism as Howard and say that he’s not that good a defender. The sheer fact that he led the league in blocks without the same jumping ability as Howard PROVES that he is a great defender. It means his effort, positioning, his smarts, his anticipation and thus timing has to be that much better to make up for his lack of sheer jumping ability that Dwight has. And yet he managed to get more blocks than the supposed best defensive player of the year. If he was playing for a NY or an LA at the time he definitely would have gotten more attention for his outstanding defence last season.

      sure Monta is a great scorer a spectacular one in fact, but as soon as he became their ‘STAR’ player for that team they’ve never gotten close to making the playoffs. The warriors were known as easy beats, why? because they don’t play defence. It’s all good and well to say you can jump sideways and backwards and hit fallaway 3s but if you don’t play defence and lead your team to being a bottom wrung team then what’s the point? His 25ppg count for squat if he’s giving up just as many if not more on the defensive end. Look at the efficiency numbers and you’ll see that Bogut is streets ahead of Ellis.

  11. Randeligan says:

    Seriously Schuhmann, as a writer your skills are pathetic and your article are always like reading an eighth grade paper written by someone with mental defficiencies where you come away asking ‘how could he seriously have written and believed that?’ Bogut only made the allstar team because the league is so watered down at the center position. If Monta would have been on a team with a record close to .500, he would have made it every year. But with Nellie running the dysfunctional warriors into the ground constantly, that would be impossible. Monta gets snubbed only because old washed up weaklings like steve nash get the nod as a career acheivement award. Please, just stop writing. Every time i see you on NBA tv i change the channel. You are beyond worthless when it comes to adding value to the game and league.

    • Dan says:

      Bogut never made the all-star team buddy…

    • victor says:

      What Randeligan wrote made me think he is worst than beyond worthless. Seriously Randeligan, you spent time reading the article. You read something that you think its worthless and you still read it! Get your facts right and write something useful.

    • Fpb says:

      @Randeligan. How dare you refer to All Star 2 time MVP Steve Nash as “Weaklings”. Seriously!! Show some respect, dude.
      Oh, BTW Mr. Schuhmann is well respected amongst his peers and irregulars not only in the USA but also your neighbours north of the border. If you do not like his work, go away.

  12. frank says:

    What happens in GS if Bogut breaks down as always happened in tha last seasons? Takes Dampier again?

  13. Carlos says:

    This is why garbage teams will stay being garbage teams in the league. Not because the league is “unfair” or because too many stars want to play for large markets or because some teams have more money.

    It’s because so many GM’s are incompetent and so many owners are just rich crybaby’s who don’t understand the game. +/- may not be a stat casual fans notice but GM’s should be on top of this! Good luck with that playoff spot Mark Jackson smh

    • Zak says:

      I appreciate that Plus/Minus is an important stat, but it cannot be the entire decision as to why you give a player more playing time. Think about the other centres on that team: Andres Biedrens… and no-one else. David Lee and even Dominic McGuire have to play center. If you put Kwame Brown in you could probably do a similar Plus Minus estimation.

      I do think that Udoh is a very good player, and has tremendous potentiual for the future, but I don’t think in the largest trade of the deadline he can be labelled as the most important piece