Golden State Warriors: Why Festus Ezeli is Key to Their Future


January 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli (31) looks on during the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Until the acquisition of Andrew Bogut last season, the Golden State Warriors had been playing for a long time without a solid big man.

And even with Bogut, his injuries and inability to stay on the court hindered his performance between the time he arrived with the Warriors and the end of their magical postseason run this past season.

Bogut is due $13 million in 2013 and Andris Biedrins is set to make $9 million. So, the Warriors are paying one injury-plagued center and one benchwarmer a combined $22 million in a season? Something isn’t right.

What the Warriors must realize is that they have a hidden gem on their roster, a guy by the name of Festus Ezeli.

Ezeli, the last pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, has the size and strength to be a starting center in the NBA. At 6’11” and 255 pounds, he can bang with the biggest and best of them; it’s just a matter of developing and polishing his low-post skills and his raw talent.

The 23-year-old out of Vanderbilt played in 78 games this past season, including 41 starts, and also appeared in every playoff game. He averaged 2.4 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, and 0.9 blocks per game in 14.4 minutes per game.

Those stats might not impress you, but when you are not even getting 15 minutes of playing time and not seen as the slightest bit of a scoring option, it is understandable.

The biggest thing for Ezeli is to develop the skills that he already possesses, and work on his game so he can become the next starting center for the Warriors.

I believe that Biedrins will be on his way out after this season, and Bogut won’t be in the bay much longer. Both players are very expensive and have failed to produce at the consistent level that the Warriors expected of them

Bogut had an amazing postseason with Golden State and was able to anchor a strong defense, but he just isn’t the same player that he once was and I don’t think the Warriors should spend so much money to keep him

That said, the Warriors must turn to Ezeli, who is young and on the rise, to become their next starting center. He can block shots efficiently with his long arms and also use his physicality to snatch rebounds from the opponents.

I just believe that the stars are lining up for Ezeli, who will be handed the opportunity of a lifetime in a little bit. Maybe not this year, or the next year, but if he keeps working to improve and prove the coaching staff that he is worthy, then he can legitimately become a force to be reckoned with for years to come.