Golden State Warriors: Former-Warrior Ekpe Udoh is back in the NBA


The Golden State Warriors’ former center and sixth overall draft pick, Ekpe Udoh, is back in the NBA with the Utah Jazz after a successful stint overseas.

The Golden State Warriors have the best perimeter players in the game. They have the top backcourt in the NBA in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. With Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, they also have an extremely versatile set of forwards.

Where the Warriors have needed help, traditionally, is at the center position. Last season, they signed Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee to play the five. Both of those players were effective. They also carried (and tried to utilize) guys like Anderson Varejao and James Michael McAdoo.

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After winning the championship, the Warriors didn’t have any centers (outside of Damian Jones) signed to the roster. Our own Angelo Mendoza wrote that the Warriors should go after Ekpe Udoh. The former Golden State big man was no longer in the NBA, playing overseas in the Turkish League.

Udoh, like Mendoza points out, had the misfortune of playing in some tough situations during his NBA career. He didn’t get the chance to develop with the Warriors or with the Milwaukee Bucks. He played 33 games for the Los Angeles Clippers in a very minor role before deciding to take his talents overseas.

Mendoza laid out how great his last two seasons in Europe have been:

"This decision turned out to be for the best, as he became a better player for it and eventually won multiple accolades, including All-EuroLeague first team honors (2017), All-EuroLeague second team honors (2016), and Turkish League All-Star honors (2016).His team, Fenerbahçe, won the Turkish Cup, the Turkish President’s Cup, and the Turkish League in 2016."

He averaged a EuroLeague Final Four loss and had another very successful year in 2017:

"Udoh re-signed with Fenerbahçe for 2017, playing a total 57 games (43 starts) on per game averages of 11.1 points (58.6 FG%), 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks in 29 minutes. He earned 2017 EuroLeague Final Four MVP honors, leading Fenerbahçe to their first franchise EuroLeague title."

Udoh’s return to the NBA was imminent. He did not, however, sign with the Warriors. Though they have a roster spot open, it doesn’t seem like he was on their radar.

Instead Udoh has signed with the Utah Jazz. Playing with Rudy Gobert will certainly help him grow more. His success in Europe could earn him a spot in the Jazz’s rotation.

Udoh, 30, played for the Warriors from 2010-2012. He was drafted sixth overall by the team in the 2010 Draft, ahead of players like Gordon Hayward and Paul George. He could never live up to that selection, averaging just 4.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per contest in 96 career games for the Warriors.

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Golden State would later include him in the trade that sent Monta Ellis (and Kwame Brown) to Milwaukee in exchange for Andrew Bogut. While he was playing better around that time, Golden State had to make the move to give Stephen Curry the keys to the franchise. Udoh, at the time, was 24 and intriguing.

He couldn’t pan out, but he developed his skills overseas. Now he’s back and he gets to bring experience to and learn from one of the best centers in the game. For veteran Warriors fans, it’s nice to see Udoh back in the NBA.