Less than 24 hours after reaching an agreement to re-sign Glen Davis on a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum, it is revealed by Sam Amick of USA Today Sports that there was mutual interest between the Clippers and former lottery pick Ekpe Udoh.
Free agent big man Ekpe Udoh considering contenders, with decision expected this weekend. Was close to Clippers until they did Glen Davis.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 18, 2014
Up until this point in his career, many consider Udoh a bust. Drafted 6th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft (ahead of Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Larry Sanders, Eric Bledsoe, etc.), Udoh has failed to make a true impact in the NBA, averaging 4.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.3 rebounds per game for his career. But when looking at the Clippers’ needs, his talent–on paper–is the perfect fit.
In a pierce surveying the free agent landscape for power forwards the Clippers could afford for the veteran’s minimum, Udoh’s name popped on that list, with his ability to protect the rim and block shots as the calling card that would draw the franchise toward him.
At 6’10 he’d provide athleticism and energy off the bench when the Clippers spell Blake Griffin, and would most certainly be a step up from Glen Davis in terms of rim protection. Last season, Udoh blocked 2 shots per-36 minutes and posted a Block Percentage of 4.4%, a number that would’ve been third on the Clippers in 2013-14 behind DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins. According to NBA’s Player Tracking system, opponents shot 46.3% at the rim on 5.1 attempts per game with Udoh protecting the rim.
While DeAndre Jordan proved to be a formidable defender under Doc Rivers, the Clippers were still a lackluster team in terms of rim protection. According to SportsVU, LA finished 21st in Opponents Field-Goal Percentage at the rim at 53.2%. The addition of Udoh adds to that facet of the game as step into the role of fourth best big on the roster behind Jordan, Blake Griffin, and Spencer Hawes.
In the end, Doc Rivers stuck with what and who he knew best in Glen Davis. Davis has never been a bad player throughout his career, though his habits are enough to drive viewers crazy, and he’s a known quantity at this stage of his career.