Programming Note: Insider Matt Steinmetz is in Las Vegas following the NBA Summer League. Stay logged on and tune into SportsNet Central as Matt files reports all week long with the latest on the Warriors.
LAS VEGAS About five minutes Thats how long you needed to watch the Warriors summerleague team practice on Wednesday afternoon before you noticed Festus Ezeli.It happened that quickly.What catches your eye first about Ezeli is his sheer size.Hes 6-foot-11, 270 pounds and he looks every bit of it. But if youre aWarriors fan, it gets even better.Of the 20 or so players participating for the Warriors atSierra Vista High School, nobody was more intense, more physical or more activethan Ezeli. He patrolled the lane, he helped beaten teammates with rimprotection, and, with all due respect, he didnt shut up.Lets just say hes going to help, said Warriors assistantcoach Pete Myers. Hes a specimen. He likes playing inside, likes settingscreens and he enjoys being physical. Hes got good lateral quickness for a bigguy.It would seem to make sense that Ezeli would assume the rolethat Kwame Brown had for the Warriors before he got hurt: rebounder, fouler atthe rim, lane-clogger and good, all-around teammate.Brown played only nine games before suffering aseason-ending pectoral injury, but in those games he averaged 6.3 points and6.3 rebounds per game. But if you watched each of those games you know Brownwas more valuable than the numbers.Simply put, Brown brought something the Warriorsdidnt have. Perhaps Ezeli can do the same in 2012-13.Thats why Im here, answered Ezeli, about becoming adefensive anchor. Thats what I am for this team. Thats what theyve asked meto be and thats what Ill be. Its what Ive always known. Vanderbilt was myfirst organized program and they trained me to be a defensive anchor so thatsall I know.Warriors coach Mark Jackson said one difference betweenBrown and Ezeli is that Brown, a veteran, knew all the tricks of the trade.Ezeli will have to figure those out.Myers said Ezelis biggest challenge right now is figuringout the Warriors defensive schemes and terminology. Ezeli agreed, but its notsomething he thinks will be a long-term problem.Its coming along, Ezeli said. Im trying to learn. Thereare a lot of things here that are different. Sometimes I have to fight myinstincts and try to learn how its done here. This is my new family, my newteam. Ive got to learn how to protect my teammates.As for Ezelis offensive game, well have we talked abouthis defense?His offense is still a ways away, Myers said. Hes notafraid, though. You throw it to him in the low post and hes going to look toscore. Hes not one of those guys who will pass it right out and set a screen.Hell try to be physical and get to the rim, which I like.I just think it will take some time to develop somelow-post moves."