With the 30th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors selected Festus Ezeli, a 6-foot-11 power forward/center out of Vanderbilt. Ezeli was born in Nigeria but moved to California to further his academic pursuit of being a physician. As a 6-foot-8 14 year old, Ezeli was encouraged by his uncle to give up soccer and begin playing basketball. When it was time to select a college, Ezeli narrowed his list down to Vanderbilt, Boston College, Harvard and Connecticut.
When Ezeli enrolled at Vanderbilt, he was still very raw and spent the first two years as a backup to A.J. Ogilvy. When Ogilvy declared for the 2010 NBA Draft, Ezeli stepped in at starting center and averaged 13 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He also broke the Vanderbilt record for blocked shots in a season. In his senior season he saw his numbers drop across the board including minutes and games played, however, he was still listed as an above average NBA prospect due to his size and shot blocking ability.
While his defensive game is dominant, his overall offensive game has not developed. He finished his college career by playing in 121 games and had only 18 assists while turning the ball over 195 times. That is almost an 11-1 turnover to assist ratio. He shot 53.9 percent from the field, but the majority of that was offensive rebounds and catches under the rim. He has yet to develop any post moves or an outside shot. He is also a very poor free throw shooter which makes him a liability on the court late in a the game.
In his first season in the NBA he was a contributor as far as minutes go, but he didn’t have the numbers to match his time on the court. He averaged only 2.4 points and 4.0 rebounds even though he played 78 games and started 41. He has the athletic ability to play defense like Serge Ibaka, but his offensive game is so far behind. If he continues on this trend, he will always have a role as a backup big man off the bench but can’t be relied on to start other than in emergency situations.
The Warriors have Andrew Bogut, Jermaine O’Neal and David Lee on their roster right now. If they decide to play small ball, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes will be used more often at the power forward position and Ezeli may see his role and minutes decrease throughout the season. In his second year I expect his production to go down and maybe even fall out of the rotation unless he can improve on his offensive game.