Friday, May 11, 2012

'Uncle' Festus Ezeli - He's Creepy and He's Kooky

Tragically, Ezeli has an inverted neck.
Inspired by Reggie Williams, Festus Ezeli is proving that a neck is a luxury, not a necessity, to be in the NBA. He’s the best C from Vanderbilt since Andrew Ogilvy. But unlike Ogilvy, Festus actually projects to be a quality NBA center. Ezeli is 6’11, 255 lbs with a huge wingspan, which is a big part of his value. After being a backup his 1st two seasons, Ezeli eventually took the starting role his junior year, statistically his best season. His senior year, however, shows a decline across the board. His PPG, FG%, FTA, FT%, rebounding, steals, and blocks all went down, while his TOs and fouls went up.

Ezeli is a very easy guy to figure out. Because of his weight and enormous wingspan, he should be a positive impact defender upon arriving to the NBA. He has enough quickness and strength to hold his own against NBA C’s. He’s a one-jump shot blocker, but the upside there is that he’s got excellent timing.  His footwork seems to be a work in progress on both ends of the court, as he usually relied on being faster and stronger than his competition in college. His offensive game is either beating the other guy up for good position to finish (being set up by teammates) and on offensive rebound putbacks. Has shown potential for getting his shot off, but teams will not look to him for buckets on a regular basis.

Uncle Festus has quite a few glaring weaknesses as well. Let’s start with his hands, which are almost Udoh-like in quality. At times you have to wonder if the ball is red-hot, considering how much Ezeli bobbles it. His reaction time is reported to be slow by several draft sites, and it’s hard to argue against that. 6 boards in 23 minutes speaks volumes. He seems to get all the boards in his area, but doesn’t have the motor to get boards that require work. While his shot blocking is impressive, it comes at a price: Ezeli fouls a ton and often times takes himself out of the rebounding equation to try and get a block. Was suspended 6 games for taking improper gifts from alumni, and also has had 2 injuries centered around his right knee in college.

Close, but not 'Uncle' Festus Ezeli
All in all, Ezeli looks to be a solid backup 5 in the Association. Should never expect him to do much offensively, and he has the tools to become a quality defender under the right tutelage. His shaky hands and penchant for over-pursuing blocks really limit his ceiling, but everything else points to him being a rotational big in the NBA for a long time.

Eternal Optimist sees: Ekpe Udoh with C size.
Negative Nancy sees:  Joel Anthony
What I see: Ronny Turiaf meets Ian Manhimi
Draft projection: early 20s to early 2nd

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