Name: Ekpe Udoh
Key Stats: 33 games, 3.9 min, 11.62 PER
Years in NBA: 5
Years with Clippers: 1
2014-2015 Salary: $981,084
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
In a Nutshell:
When you play only 128 minutes, you don't leave writers much to write about come end-of-season wrap-up time. The thoughtful Udoh, a former 6th overall pick, made his most prominent contributions to the 2014-2015 season on Twitter, moderating #EkpesBookClub. On the court, he appeared in just 33 games. Despite the Clippers' well-documented bench issues, Udoh was never considered by Doc Rivers to be any kind of solution. Udoh was never given any meaningful minutes. Well, there was one meaning when Udoh was on the floor: The game was over.
Udoh seems like he should have a role in this league. A long 6'10", he's been praised for his defense at each of his NBA stops. Do a quick search for his name and you'll find blog posts from several cities asking, "Why Doesn't Ekpe Udoh Play More?" Synergy loves his defense. ESPN's Real Plus-Minus (RPM) loves his defense. I love his defense. Why doesn't Ekpe Udoh play more?
Udoh is a one-trick pony, and defense is a tough trick to quantify. Udoh doesn't rebound. Udoh doesn't score. He has a career 42.9% field goal percentage. He doesn't finish at the rim. (Reminder: he's 6'10".) His career assist rate roughly equals his turnover rate. His offensive value roughly equals a traffic cone's. Udoh was also an old draftee, which is why he's already 28 even though his professional career began more recently than Blake Griffin's.
Future With the Clippers:
If you want to read all of that another way, it's this: he's boring. Upside is exciting. Udoh is the missionary position. He's good for you, but you know exactly what you're getting. The draft and bargain free agent market is always full of long, athletic big men. Sure, most of them don't know how to play yet, but when a guy forces you to project, you can project to the sky. Udoh has fulfilled his upside, and it doesn't rise past the bench.
He may be back with the Clippers. There's no way to know right now, because their priorities lie elsewhere. Udoh's an August kind of signing. If not, surely there will be another team and another minimum salary for him. And there's always Barnes and Noble.
Matt Barnes spit on the floor. Udoh wiped it up. Ekpe Udoh: Man, Player, Scholar, and Janitor.