Recently, we re-started a series of articles called “Dubs by the Digits.” These articles give fans a quick statistical breakdown on members of the Golden State Warriors. This week, we will feature Festus Ezeli.
The first article in the Dubs by the Digits series was about Warriors backup point guard, Shaun Livingston, the second article of this series was about Warriors shooting guard/small forward, Brandon Rush, the third article in this series was about Warriors small forward/power forward, Draymond Green.
The fourth article in this series was about Warriors shooting guard/small forward Andre Iguodala, the fifth article in this series was about Warriors center Andrew Bogut, the sixth article in this series was about Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa, the seventh article published in this series was about Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, and the last article published in this series was about one of the newest Warriors players, Jason Thompson.
Now, let’s start discussing Ezeli.
The Warriors selected Ezeli with the 30th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He played four seasons of college basketball at Vanderbilt, and he entered the NBA as a strong defender but was still raw offensively. He hadn’t started playing basketball until the age of 14, so he was still shaping his own game.
Ezeli started 41 games in his rookie season with the Warriors due to Bogut being injured. He only averaged 14.4 minutes in his rookie season, but he showed off his defensive skills and energy throughout the season and in the postseason.
Due to a knee injury, Ezeli missed all of the 2013-14 season and part of the 2014-15 season. He logged just 11 minutes per game in 46 games in the 2014-15 regular season, but he also hadn’t played in an NBA game in over a year. He was still re-gaining his rhythm.
In the 2015 playoffs though, Ezeli provided key minutes off the bench for the Warriors. Even though the Warriors utilized small ball lineups often in their championship postseason run, Ezeli would often be the first or second player off the bench for the Warriors, as he would come in for Bogut when he was in foul trouble or struggling.
Let’s take a closer look at Ezeli’s stats in his rookie season, in the 2013 playoffs, in this past season, and in this past postseason.
|PTS||REB||AST||BLK||FG %||FT%||TS%||Off./Def. Rtg||Games(starts)||MIN|
Ezeli’s stats aren’t overly exciting or mind-blowing, but when taking a closer look, it’s apparent that he has made an impact with the team. His playing time (in games and minutes) might be limited, but in a short amount of time, Ezeli makes an impact on the boards and in blocked shots. His defensive rating got even better in his second season as well. If he played more minutes per game, his numbers would most likely be above average.May 27, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli (31) dunks as Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) looks on during the fourth quarter in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
His offensive numbers might not be overly impressive, but he was able to put up more points per game at a higher percentage in his second season. In addition, his true shooting percentage and offensive rating increased too.
Even though Ezeli saw his lowest minutes total in the 2015 postseason, he arguably had the greatest impact during that time, statistically and intangibly. Ezeli had an impressive offensive and defensive rating and field goal percentage, and he displayed contagious energy whenever he was on the court. He was a key contributor to the Warriors winning a title, which will boost his confidence even more heading into this upcoming season.
Heading into his third NBA season, Ezeli needs to continue to improve his offensive game, specifically his touch on the ball, post moves, and mid-range jumper. His defensive skills and energy are already impressive. He showed big improvement in the postseason, and he could see similar minutes this upcoming season as he did in the 2015 postseason, which sets him up to have a quality third season in the NBA.
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