Warriors’ Ezeli To See Lots Of Time


HANG TIME WEST –
Still no word on whether Andrew Bogut will be in the starting lineup opening night, whether he will return to action Wednesday at Phoenix with limited minutes off the bench or whether he will be out entirely as the recovery from a fractured ankle goes much longer than he or the Warriors anticipated. He received a positive update from the doctor and moved into five-on-five work in practice, and that is all that is known.

This is about to become about Festus Ezeli one way or another. If Bogut does start at center, it certainly won’t be with starter’s minutes for a while, and a lesser or non-existent role means leaning on Ezeli more than anyone imagined. The outset of a highly anticipated season, a run of talented centers immediately in front of them, and a rookie who arrived as the last pick of the first round has to be a difference maker.

The chance for Ezeli to make a slow transition into the NBA world disappeared as the timeline on Bogut’s recovery was constantly being pushed back, from expecting to be ready for training camp to planning to play in at least a few exhibition games to the current prognosis that it is very possible he will miss regular-season games. And not just the usual assortment of regular-season games. Before the end of the first full week of games, Golden State will have faced the Suns (Marcin Gortat), Grizzlies (Marc Gasol), Kings (DeMarcus Cousins) and Lakers (Dwight Howard), along with the defensive presence of DeAndre Jordan with the Clippers. Ezeli has to be ready now, whether Bogut is in uniform or not.

Regarding him as road kill would be a big mistake. Ezeli is already a pretty good defender, plays physical at 6-11 and 255 pounds and has good court instincts, an intangible that is especially noteworthy given that the Nigeria native, by way of Vanderbilt, did not play organized basketball until 2007. The Warriors love his mind and attitude. Now imagine that with two or three years of NBA experience.

“Our starting center position was wide open with Bogut not being ready, and he (Ezeli) earned it,” coach Mark Jackson said of (at least) the exhibition games. “He earned it because of his defensive presence and also because of his professionalism. He’s one of the first guys in the locker room, he’s one of the last to leave, he comes back later and watches film. He wants to be a big-time player. He absolutely gets it on the defensive end.”

A lot of teams are going to regret letting Ezeli drop to No. 30 in June. At worst, the Warriors have a long-term answer at backup center, a valuable piece in the league, and he will be in the league longer than several players picked earlier.

Monday, one of the other Golden State rookies officially made the opening lineup — Jackson said Harrison Barnes, the No. 7 pick, will start at small forward ahead of Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson. The third rookie, second-round selection Draymond Green, will make the team, but minutes will be hard to find.

16 Comments

  1. haha says:

    i agree biedrins is the best. and lin is the best pg too. go asian players!!!!

  2. Blah Blah says:

    What about Andris Biedrins? He’s the best center in the league!!!

  3. wooderson says:

    ezeli and the warriors will do fine even without the best 7 footer in the world, the most important thing is that he gets 100%. gortat is not a threat nor is cousins, marc gasol is ok but not a big threat and all ezeli needs to do is play d. the scoring can come from curry, thompson, barnes and lee with andrew out. seriously cannot wait till andrew gets back though i really hope it is opening night just to make sure the warriors start off with a win

    • slider821 says:

      I agree Bogut should be healthy 100% before coming back but this whole thing stinks to high heaven. Word from W’s camp has always been he’s ‘on schedule’…first that was to play in the olympics, then it was to be ready for preseason, then it was at least a few preseason games, then by start of regular season, now they have finally fessed up and just shut their traps becuase they have no idea when he’ll be back.

      The only reason us W fans have had high hopes for this season is becuase the W office has been giving us the expectation all summer that Bogut would be ready to play. But once again he’s still sitting and Warriors are back to playing small ball, a style that has failed them every season for the last decade and the reason we traded Monte.

      I’m already ready to chalk this season up to another 10th seed and just wait till next year when hopefully Bogut will be ready to play a full season. I’m so tired of W camp giving their fans so much hope/expectations just to be let down (last year it was a playoff promise by Jackson).

      Don’t get me wrong, Ezeli will grow into a decent player but the problem has always been that without Bogut, Lee is the offensive post presence and will have the opponents center playing him, something he struggled with last year. Ezeli will help rebound but again the W’s are stuck as an outside shooting team playing small ball.

      All this from the biggest Warriors fan. :/

      • Ken says:

        Slider:
        Bogut’s ankle was recently cleared as 100% by an ankle expert.
        Bogut took part if full practice yesterday with no restrictions.
        So, he is about 2-3 weeks behind original schedule.
        Everyone is just being very cautious.
        Warriors early schedule is difficult anyway, and Barnes and Ezeli have zero NBA experience, so no point in rushing Bogut back and causing a setback.
        First half of season is giving everyone an opportunity to learn to play as a team, Warriors opportunity will be second half of the season with lots of home games.

  4. paul says:

    what does lin have to do with the warriors??? if you want to post anything about lin..go look for articles about him.!
    wong comment on the wong person! hahaha

  5. Jesse says:

    bogut is no good, he is hung up on injuries he should just fly home and play in the nbl … best thing for him!!!

  6. bigbadbasham says:

    Aussie Aussie Aussie! Hope Bogut remains injury free for a while. Was great to watch before this string of injuries.

  7. Dave says:

    i think being in America for so many years has softened bogut. remember where you come from and harden up Andrew.

  8. Sam says:

    Stop your racist fan appreciation!

  9. wong says:

    Nobody cares about ths stupid stuff. Make more videos on Lin!! He’s the best point guard in league at his rookie year and we barely even hear about him. NBA isn’t worth watching without him…

    • DHK says:

      What a ridiculous comment.

    • Alex says:

      Not a single one of these statements is correct.

      1. It was Lin’s sophmore year not rookie
      2. He is nowhere near the best PG in the league
      3. We hear plenty about Lin (e.g. Linsanity)
      4. NBA is definitely worth watching without him
      5. A lot of people would care about this ‘stupid stuff’ like Warriors fans and not ignorant people like yourself

      You sir have single handedly made the dumbest comment in all NBA.com posts

    • BR says:

      I’m guessing you think Yao Ming is probably one of the best players of all time as well huh?

    • paul says:

      whats wong with u?! posting wong comments about wong team?!
      GSW FAITHFUL!!!