Warriors focus: Festus Ezeli

September 12, 2012, 8:58 pm
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth installment in a seven-part series that spotlights the seven new Warriors.
Part 1: Harrison BarnesPart 2: Kent Bazemore
Part 3: Andrew Bogut

The Warriors have made plenty of changes since the end of the 2011-12 season. They will likely have four first-year players on their roster come the start of the season, and they also acquired veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry.Center Andrew Bogut came to the Warriors in March, but hes a newcomer, too, if you factor in that he still hasnt played a game for the team yet. With training camp set to begin in early October, lets begin our player-by-player analysis of the Warriors new players.Festus Ezeli, 7-feet, 265 pounds, centerThe Warriors selected Festus Ezeli with the No. 30 pick in the June draft, and the goal for his rookie season seems simple enough: Try to take as many minutes as he can from Andris Biedrins at the backup center spot.As maligned as Biedrins has been the past few years -- and it has been both a lot and well-deserved -- he still can do at least two things that are helpful to a team: rebound and protect the basket.Biedrins isnt your typical lane-clogging big man who will take a hard foul at the rim, but hes been around the league long enough to not allow the opposition easy buckets.So Ezeli is going to have to show that he can bring at least something or two to the table game in and game out if hes going to get consistent -- if not limited -- minutes at backup five.Well see if he can do that.One trait Ezeli showed at the Vegas summer league was the ability to play with consistent energy. He takes pride in his defense, and he is always looking to help out teammates who have been beaten on the drive.Hes physical and aggressive, and hes not afraid to mix it up underneath. For his size, hes not a big-time rebounder, but his supporters will tell you its because first and foremost hes focused on protecting the rim. Ezeli tries to make things happen defensively, whether by stepping into passing lanes or going for blocks, and what that means is hes often not in rebounding position.Ezelis energy and enthusiasm and aggressiveness are likely going to get him into quite a bit of foul trouble his rookie season, if not early in his career. There are going to be some nights when he comes off the bench and gets a couple of fouls in a hurry.RELATED: Warriors' toughness issue
But for a while, the Warriors will be OK with that. They just need him to be able to contribute 10 or 15 minutes a night -- and thats only assuming Biedrins is AWOL again.At this point, Ezeli doesnt have much of an offensive game to speak of. Hes not unathletic, but hes also not what you would call an elite interior big man. Hes raw offensively, and he figures to get most of his buckets off putbacks and cheapies around the rim.But dont look for Ezeli to ever be much of a scorer; plain and simple, he doesnt have great hands and that will always limit him there.Still, theres a lot to like about Ezeli and most of that is because of what he does at the defensive end of the floor. Ezeli is unfinished and has plenty of room for growth. But if he can provide some basic defensive necessities for the Warrirors you might see him getting limited but consistent minutes sooner rather than later.

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