This has been bothering me for a minute, and since we're flush in the tantalizing dead zone of the preseason, I'm bored enough to make a post about it.
You see, in life there are always apocryphal rumors or ideas or perceptions or phrases (or hell, even holidays) that get started for some reason or another, and before anyone bothers to check, they become a full-fledged, legitimate, unchallenged thing, and we're all saying "well that begs the question," celebrating Columbus Day, buying trees to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and thinking Ekpe Udoh was drafted as a defensive specialist.
Considering the scope of GSoM, we'll leave the other ones alone for today and focus on Mr. Udoh. So, repeat after me:
EKPE UDOH WAS NOT DRAFTED FOR HIS DEFENSIVE ABILITY
First, I want to acknowledge that I'm guilty of this grave, monumental and massively important sin as well. So we're all in the same spurious boat, paddling on an ocean of lies with our oars of deceit. And that this isn't intended to bash the Udoh pick; he's on the team now and that's it, this is about why he's here and how he got here. I bet you're asking yourself: how does this fool know what Ekpe Udoh was drafted to do? Well, hypothetical human, because Larry Riley said so. It's really that simple. If you believe that Larry Riley has no reason to lie about the deciding factors in selecting Udoh in his post-draft comments, then you have to accept that he revealed his thought process accurately in those interviews. I will provide two of them for your viewing pleasure:
Video One cliffs:
-Udoh is a complete player, not a specialist.
-In addition, he's a good defensive player. "He wasn't drafted for defense, but it certainly plays into it".
-Good passer. Being an all-around player is the reason he stood out.
-Another reason he stood out was his...wait for it...upside! And strength (was compared to Wright and Randolph, who were called "the skinny guys").
Video Two cliffs:
-Again, stressing his all-aroundness and general skill level.
-Upside, upside, upside.
-Ability to play off the elbow and make mid-range shots "consistently".
-"Now it goes beyond that because he plays at the defensive end of the floor"
-"Covered a lot of zone" in Baylor's zone.
-Good help position, denies penetrators, weakside shotblocker.
-"I'm not telling you he's a lockdown defender as a four, but what I am saying is he's a good defensive basketball player; that's a part of his game and it's going to be helpful to us"
As we can see from Riley's comments, Udoh was drafted to be a mature, all-around offensive player with upside and strength who competes at the defensive end and can contribute right away (not-so-subtle digs at frustrations with Randolph and Wright perhaps?). His defense is mentioned (in much detail in the second video), but always as an auxiliary component of his game. Riley goes so far as to explicitly state: "He wasn't drafted for defense." If we can infer from Riley's comments, Udoh was actually drafted for his offense (passing, shooting and strength around the rim), so the idea that Udoh was selected to be a stalwart defender isn't accurate. And I hope that we can all embrace Ekpe Udoh's new perception as an all-around talent with upside!
This post will change everything. Swearsies.