Monta Ellis is a scoundrel and a mountebank. He just wastes possessions and chucks it from deep. But chicks dig the long ball. Monta is sexy. I totally get that. But ignore his tattooed arms and bad boy demeanor. He’s not right for you girl and he never will be. The tall, clumsy guy fumbling with the ball is way better for you and comes mother-approved (I am the Bucks mother in this metaphor).
I’m talking about Ekpe Udoh, defensive extraordinaire and a man who deserves more attention in the Bucks recent trade. This is a plea to pay attention to what Udoh does that will make the Bucks better. The problem is that Udoh will mostly go unnoticed except for when he botches up another Bucks possession. He’s not a scorer, nor is he a brilliant passer. And don’t expect him to rebound much – he averages less than four rebounds in his 21 mpg this season.
Udoh doesn’t even shine in the advanced statistical categories like a lot of other “no stats” guys like Shane Battier or Nick Collison. His PER is 11.65 and he’s near the bottom in shooting percentage and TS%.
But then there’s his plus/minus and all the other team statistics that laugh wildly at everything else. The guys inhabiting the top 50 are exactly who you’d expect: Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, etc. There are a few weirdoes inhabiting the list like Tony Allen’s craziness, but Allen is on a winning team. Everyone in the top 50 is on a reasonably good team, except for Udoh. It’s very odd for a basement dweller like the Warriors to cultivate a guy who has a plus-minus of 134. The next closest Warrior is Stephen Curry with a 57. Everyone else is either in the single digits or very much on the minus side.
The problem with the plus/minus stat is that it doesn’t take into account who is on the floor at the time. Good criticism, especially since Udoh is playing with the second team a lot of the time. Adjusted plus-minus makes strides to take care of that problem and in that stat Udoh is still posting a sterling 10.78 for the season. And how about this from John Schuhmann:
64% of Udoh’s minutes were played w/ Ellis. Ellis was a +114 in 528 min. w/ Udoh & a -169 in 837 min. w/o Udoh.
That’s not the whole story though. The Warriors two best offensive lineups start Udoh at center. Their two best defensive lineups also started Udoh at center. In fact, the Warriors score over nine more points and allow nine points less when Udoh is on the court.
There is something he does that is successful. I haven’t seen a lot of Udoh to have a feel for him, but I’d guess that he does the following:
- Very loud on defense and often points out switches, cuts etc.
- Prevents deep post catches by bumping every part of his man
- Length and quickness exacerbated very active arms
- Very confident at setting picks and showing hard on picks
- Can catch the ball (GET OUT OF HERE LARRY)
If you believe in teamwork and chemistry and doing all the little things then you will watch Udoh. I do not, so I will be marveling at all the swag emanating from Ellis and Jennings.
Ian Segovia is a Bucksketball contributor. Follow him on Twitter for when he tweets “I TOLD YOU SO” after a sweet Udoh block.