Monday, March 22, 2010

Ekpe Udoh Writeup

Ekpe Udoh - Jr. PF/C, Baylor

Per36min numbers against Quality Opponents (24 games):
13.3pts, 9.0rebs, 2.5asts, 0.8stls, 3.0blks, 2.7PFs, 2.6TOs
47.3 FG%, 31.6 3pt% (6/19), 68.5 FT%, .37 FTA/FGA

At 6’10, 240lbs, Udoh has an incredible frame with extremely long arms and wide shoulders. While he’s not skinny, he looks to be able to add even more muscle on his frame as right now he looks like Dwight Howard did when he came into the league. However, at nearly 23 years of age, maybe he’s just going to stay at this size and thus be far more adept at playing PF with only spot minutes at C.

Udoh is a fluid runner and moves around the court like a SF. He possesses great lateral footspeed which allows him to look comfortable on the perimeter on either end. As far as jumping, even though he appears like he’d be able to get up high, he’s not an explosive leaper but rather just looks relatively normal. He is, however, quick off the ground which can be seen defensively.

When it comes to scoring, he is versatile, but still somewhat raw in all areas.

He looks more comfortable when he puts the ball on the floor and drives to the rim. Even though you’d expect him to dunk quite often given his size, he often prefers to lay it in and can do so with either hand. Even though he’s going at the rim, he almost seems passive when he drives because he’s not attacking it. A problem I see for the future is that when he dribbles he keeps the ball very high, which makes it an easy target for defenders to come in and knock it away - and while this doesn’t happen often at the college level, it almost assuredly will in the NBA.

Udoh also possesses a decent jumper. He can off catch and shoot situations or create for himself off the dribble. In either scenario, he looks to have a slow release and doesn’t exactly look fluid, but it’s more reliable than is seen out of most PF/C prospects. I don’t know if he has NBA 3pt range, because in the rare times he does take a 3, it’s pretty much on the line… but maybe he can extend his range since he does shoot a lot of mid-range jumpers (likely a third of his shot attempts) and converts a good amount of them.

Finally, he’s relatively raw in the post, but he’s kind of effective with what he’s got. First off, he’s unable to get deep position or back guys down as he needs to because of lack of lower body strength. When he does get position - most often against smaller PFs - he most often relies on spinning away from the hoop and then shooting face-up jumpers or hooks - forcing them up at times. Rarely do I see him spinning towards the hoop by using a drop step and I’ve never seen him attempt an up-and-under.

Because of his style, he doesn’t get to the FT line very often. That’s probably a good thing, as his FT stroke doesn’t look very pretty - he doesn’t use his legs at all and his motion looks too slow and unnatural.

Passing is a strength of his, but not without flaws. He possesses good court awareness and can find cutters in the lane as well as guys who are open cross court. As I said previously, he looks comfortable on the perimeter, so Baylor sometimes utilizes him to initiate offense at the top of the key and he can be seen making one or two nice passes a game. However, with the good comes the bad. He often makes risky passes and whips the ball to his teammates at near-uncatchable speeds way too often. That being said, outside of Monroe he’s the best playmaking big and probably only one of four which I think have talent in this area.

Rebounding, on the other hand, I do not view as one of his strengths. While not an awful by any stretch, he’s not a good fundamental rebounder and is often sloppy on boxouts not getting his full body into the opposing player or using his arms effectively. He also rarely goes to find players to box out. His lack of strength is apparent here, and he plays smaller than he is on the inside (also apparent when he sets screens offensively). However, Udoh gets by in the rebounding department because of his athleticism, elite length, and hustle - the last of which nets him many offensive rebounds.

Finally, I come to his strength: defense. His weakside defense is spectacular. He quick off his feet and has pretty good timing on blocks, while also altering many shots because of his length - however at times he is aggressive in leaving his feet before the shot attempt, though in those situations he still avoids fouling. Because he possesses great lateral footspeed, he is able to quickly move within the paint and on the perimeter to rotate and get into position to help.

He does play a lot of 2-3 zone, but because he’s a big there are times he plays in situations where it’s pretty much man defense, so I’m not as worried about him translating to an NBA scheme. When playing man in the post, he absorbs contact and keeps arms high to block shots, but frequently gives up room due to lack of strength. I don’t know how much that matters, because in my opinion he makes up for that with the amount of alterations he causes. Also within the 2-3 zone, we can see how well he moves on the perimeter and how quick he is to come out and defend an open shooter. Truly is impressive on this end of the court.

Overall, I had him #13 last week and I’d imagine I will keep him around that range for the rest of the season. His combination of defense, athleticism, length, and ability to improve offensively makes him a tantalizing prospect; and even though he’ll be 23 in a few months I still think he’s going to keep improving and has nice potential.

(Note: I had originally posted this February 20th, 2010; but I have since updated the Quality Opponent stats)

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