Los Angeles Lakers Should Gamble on Ekpe Udoh

By Brendan Patel
Tim Fuller - USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller – USA TODAY Sports

Ekpe Udoh has struggled since entering the league as a lottery pick. Injuries have kept him from consistently finding playing time, and have slowed his development. While it may not seem like he has a lot to offer at this point in his career, he is the type of player that the Los Angeles Lakers should pursue in the offseason. He still has a lot to prove, and will likely be looking for a minimum-level contract to stay in the league. He wants playing time — something that the team will be willing to offer.

Udoh’s best attribute to the team is his ability to block shots. He utilizes his length and athleticism to constantly challenge and affect shots, giving the opposing teams trouble when they get to the rim. The Lakers badly need a player who can provide rim protection on defense, especially with their slower perimeter players. They didn’t have many players last season who could help their teammates on defense when they were beaten, and have not had a dominant shot blocker in years. Udoh is still learning to become a better all-around defender, but he has the right tools to make a difference.

He is still a work in progress on the offensive end, but the Lakers will not need him to do much in terms of one-on-one offense. He has time to continue to improve his movement off the ball, and will get easier looks with players like Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant on the court. He does shoot a decent average from the free-throw line, especially for a big man, which is a positive sign.

Udoh might not be a star player, but he could play meaningful minutes for the Lakers. They need help on the defensive end, and Udoh can provide a shot-blocking presence that they have not had in years. He will be an inexpensive contract and will want to prove that he still belongs in the league. The Lakers should look to add Udoh to their roster in the offseason.

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