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

Should We Expect More From Festus Ezeli?

At this time last year, Festus Ezeli underwent surgery for his right knee that was supposed to sideline him for anywhere between six and nine months.  A six-month rehabilitation would have finished in December and a nine-month rehabilitation would last until March.

Wait, isn’t it June?

As we recently announced earlier, Festus Ezeli has been cleared to play, and we can expect to see him in Summer League action.  But why has it taken so long for him to recover?  The Warriors ended their season with a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and it was no secret that the Warriors sorely missed their starting center Andrew Bogut.  They heavily relied on a weary Jermaine O’neal or switched to small-ball lineups without a center in a failed attempt to slow the Clippers and their Griffin-Jordan big man tandem.  While watching this, I kept thinking, “Where is Ezeli?  Wasn’t he supposed to come back to help the Dubs out?  It’s the playoffs!”

The NBA is an injury-filled league, and it is common for players to miss weeks and months.  Usually though, when the doctors say you’ll be back at a certain time, you’re back by that time, especially when your team needs you for the playoffs.  Was he not doing his physical therapy?  Was he doing some extracurricular activities that slowed his recovery?  Maybe the doctors predicted wrong and his injury simply needed extra time and his body was not responding to treatment the way they expected it to.  Injuries are a touchy subject and there are a plethora of factors in coming off an injury and being ready to play at an NBA level.

With the announcement of being cleared for play, Ezeli told the Bay Area News Group, “They think it’s a good idea, so I probably will.  Just go to Vegas, get some touches and get my rhythm back. Just get back to playing. Get back to being comfortable on the court.”

This doesn’t sound like a man eager to get back on the court; it sounds more like an organization urging him to get on a court — any court — and start playing.

Am I being too harsh?  Should I give this young promising center a break?  Or does Festus Ezeli deserve criticism for not trying to play earlier?

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