Golden State’s reserve center, Nigerian-born Festus Ezeli, has a lot at stake this season.
Entering his first contract year since being drafted by the Warriors in the first round of 2012, Ezeli has done little to prove he’s worth big dollars, despite being a member of a championship roster.
Ezeli averaged 11 minutes per game during the Warriors’ big season, with 3.4 rebounds and 4.4 points per game.
Stationed behind veteran center Andrew Bogut on the depth chart, Ezeli started only seven games last year, not nearly enough to get a real feel for the game.
Ezeli was hampered by injury as well, being available for only half of last year and missing the entirety of the 2013-2014 season, only damaging his case for more minutes.
Ezeli’s numbers when extended over 36 minutes tell the tale of a budding star, though, which creates a conundrum for the Warriors.
11 rebounds, three blocks and 14.4 points per 36 minutes is what Ezeli’s might have posted as a starter, and though these don’t take fatigue into account, they also don’t reasonably display potential growth that generally comes with playing big minutes as a young player.
It’s far too early to begin prognosticating on what Ezeli might receive on the open market, but it’s tough to deny that he could become a valuable long term asset to the Warriors continued championship ambitions.