Ekpe Udoh vs. Greg Monroe: Did the Warriors Miss?











Greg Monroe’s production this season really has Warriors fans smarting over the general manager Larry Riley passing him up in the 2010 draft. Golden State instead selected Ekpe Udoh. So far, Monroe has clearly been the most productive of the two.

After a better-than-solid rookie year, Monroe has been deemed the center of the future in Detroit. So far, from a distance, he seems to be living up to the anointing. He came into Sunday’s game against the Warriors averaging 16.6 points on 57.6 percent shooting with 9.2 rebounds – all team highs. And he’s doing it with such consistency, it’s harder to write it off as good numbers on a bad team.

Meanwhile, Udoh struggles on offense, leaves a lot to be desired with his rebounding, and is lacking consistency. He’s a role player who sometimes doesn’t get much run, averaging 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes.

GM LARRY RILEY: “What he has to do is get a little bit better as far as his rebound game is concerned, and get a little more offensive confidence. He defends. We know will defend and block shots. We need to see a little more growth out of him. It’s coming, but its coming slowly. He’s a guy who can show the ability to make a few jump shots in practice and he’s gotten to where it looks like he’s comfortable with some low-post moves. But we need his game to grow. There is no doubt about it.”

So, on paper, it’s looking glaringly obvious the Warriors made the wrong choice. But as Sunday’s game proved, it’s not that cut and dry.

In fairness, it must be pointed out that Udoh was disadvantaged from the start. An injured wrist kept him out of the 2010 Summer League and training camp. Udoh didn’t make his NBA debut until December 2010, a month into the season. Monroe got the full gamut of preparation.

Throw in this year’s lockout issues, and Udoh lost even more valuable experience. With that said, not even general manager Larry Riley is using that excuse.

RILEY: “Those things slow people down. But they slowed down everybody in this year’s draft and he didn’t have the benefit of playing the year before and he got a late start. But he’s close to where he’s played enough basketball where we’d like to see some growth. And I think we will. I feel good about the effort that he puts into the game, his understanding of the game, and his approach to everything. And I do think that will come here before too long, but I’d like to see a little more growth in him.”

But the reasons Golden State did not select Monroe still apply. He’s not the big body, physical big man they envision. Being more of a power forward (or a high-post center), he clashes with David Lee’s skills a bit.

The Warriors were leaning toward Udoh early in the draft, one team source said. They had their concerns about Monroe  from the beginning, and Monroe’s bad workout didn’t help. I remember hearing back then that St. Mary’s big man Omar Samhan gave Monroe the business.

But even if those concerns are still valid, that doesn’t mean Monroe’s skills doesn’t override his (perceived) shortcomings. Certainly, a few people in the Warriors front office said they believe in going with best available player. And it’s hard, if not impossible, to argue Monroe is the best player of the two.

So the real question is does the need Udoh fill (or is expected to fill) justify passing on the better talent in Monroe? Tonight, Udoh made a case for yes.

The Warriors desperately need defense and Udoh provides it. He certainly did Sunday. His line: 27 minutes (season-high), 10 points, six rebounds, four blocks (season-high) and three steals. Udoh helped hold Monroe scoreless in the fourth quarter.

UDOH: “You’ve got to understand, I’m trying to help my team get wins. The more you win, the more people come in and watch. And then they’ll see. So I’ve just got to keep doing and just playing balls to the wall.

Udoh said he doesn’t pay attention to the people saying the Warriors should have taken Udoh. But I don’t buy it. Eventually, he acknowledged he hears it. He said it shows him he still has something to prove and it drives him.

But Udoh said he knows he still must play within himself and what he’s being asked to do.

UDOH: “It’s in the back of your mind. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to stick what I do best. It’s hard but look at the team makeup. You got those type of players here who go and get theirs. So I’ve just got to fall back and let it fall where it lays I guess.”

Riley said Udoh won’t be judged by Monroe. A couple team sources said they take solace in the fact that Udoh is still a good draft pick even if Monroe may have the sexier numbers.

Monroe is the better scorer and rebounder. Frankly, he’s the better basketball player. He has the most star potential. He makes opposing teams game plan against him.

But Udoh, the Warriors hope, will develop his scoring and rebounding and make up the difference with his intangibles. Over time, Golden State is praying, that will make Udoh the most valuable to them. And make their passing of Monroe that much more palatable.

RILEY:  “What you have with draft picks, often times you’ll pick a guy and somebody picked two spots or 10 spots behind him will turn out to be a good player. So you know that’s part of the nature of the draft. … You have to work with that. You have to understand that, that happens from time to time and we feel like that Ekpe is still going to grow.”

Marcus Thompson

  • Slamma Jamma

    No problem with Udoh as a defensive role player or a quality guy, and a solid player to come off the bench and provide energy. But knowing that Monroe was sitting right there, and everybody and their mother knew he was the best pick for the Warriors just KILLS ME!! He has developed into a solid starting center and a building block for his franchise. Any team in the NBA would want him. And regardless of what this article is trying to say, EVERY team in the NBA would take Monroe over Udoh in a heartbeat right now.

    The Warriors would be in such a different situation right now had they drafted him. Just his value as a trade commodity would create so many possibilities. RILEY SHOULD BE FIRED just for this one HUG gaffe! Inexcusable and franchise wrecking, and the Warriors will pay for his mistake for a decade. Watching Monroe nail all of his freethrows was like sticking needles in my eyes.

    The big question is why do we STILL have Riley running our front office? Do we want to see more genius moves and drafts by this clown? I’m sure it was his amazing idea that led to flushing the trade exception down the toilet for a “chance” at Jordan that everybody else in the NBA knew we never really had. I know all the other GMs in basketball die laughing just thinking about the bumbling moves Riley has made.

  • Niners in 2012

    Okay, let’s ignore that statistically Greg Monroe is producing more than any other player in the 2010 Draft, including John Wall. There are 20 other sophs averaging more PPG than Udoh. Larry Riley needs to be fired.

  • Dan

    Seems like Riley is admitting that Monroe is better and that will always be the case. How can he not? What he seems to be ignoring is that literally everyone except him had Monroe rated higher in the draft than Udoh. Sure, as Riley said, there will usually be someone selected later that is better. But this was an obviously bad pick at the time that was pretty much universally criticized. Taking a smaller, older player with limited upside over a bigger, younger more talented player who not only had more skills at the time but way more potential. The pick just made no sense. Not Udoh’s fault, though.

  • PhillyJ

    If the Ws wanted defensive and rebounding, they should have drafted someone in the 2nd round for that role. With last year’s 6th pick, you got to go for the talent, which was Monroe.

    Dumb Ws never learn and always inevitably make the wrong decisions, get played on, and just are plain inept and pathetic.

  • Supah Ninja

    The Udoh pick was horrible. The majority of the bay area fans and nba analysts had Monroe as their pick, but noooooo. Riley had to go mess that up.
    Of course, now they go into the bargain bin to find a center to patchwork the need for another big. Pathetic.

  • Dave

    Is this Riley guy is so bad why is he still here?

  • Dave


  • “Frankly, he’s the better basketball player.”

    I have serious issues with this statement. Greg Monroe is a losing basketball player. Ekpe Udoh is a winning basketball player.

    For reasons I expound on in my latest blog post: Defense and speed.

  • PhillyJ

    Dave, because the owners are even worse than Riley.

  • dan

    Udoh will be 50 when his numbers improve !

    Obviously, it was a mistake by Riley and the FO. Udoh is a terrible rebounder for a 6’9 PF compared to Monroe. He had 6 boards tonight. Terrible.

    Another miss by the W’s FO.

  • JimPunkrockford

    not like “oh this guy turned out to be better than everyone thought”. draft night everyone questioned the W’s for the pick, at least we didn’t get Cousins

  • Derek

    Greg Monroe is better than any center the Warriors have recently sought. They had the chance to draft him, it was a no-brainer.

    Riley blew it just as he’s done from the day he was hired. They guy blew up a playoff team loaded with small scorers, he replaced those scorers with second rate scrubs and overpaid for David Lee.

    The bottom line is Riley is the worse GM in the NBA and should have been fired long ago.

  • AP

    monroes defense is terrible, good passer though. im sure if the warriors passed on troy murphy and you saw him getting around 20/10 every night you would bash the dubs for passing on him.

  • DP

    @Felbot Greg Monroe is a losing basketball player? Seriously? Monroe got drafted by a dysfunctional Detroit Pistons team who had “issues” throughout the whole season during his rookie campaign. Monroe got inconsistent minutes. He got little to no touches. He was benched for several games while Kuester attempted to play politics with old washed up players with poor attitudes. YET…he was there most consistent player last year. Monroe has an unspectacular yet effective game. He worked hard and developed his game during the lockout, now he is progressing with each passing game. He went from a player who couldn’t get his shot off to a player that mixes it up scoring wise keeping the defenders off balance. Along with that you consider his work horse rebounding and his passing ability and you have a WINNER.

  • DP

    @AP Monroe’s defense is far from terrible. It isn’t spectacular, but it isn’t terrible. Moose draws charges, plays good team defense, rebounds well (which cuts down the other team’s positions), and has quick hands. Moose will not lead the league in block shots, perhaps Udoh will one day. Moose will develop into a stronger defender because he has shown the work ethic to do it. Anyway…I like Udoh. I think he has a huge upside. If the Warriors let him walk after his rookie contract I hope the Pistons get him.

  • Marcus Thompson


    I feel what you are saying. By better basketball player I meant he has better basketball skills (shooting, passing, dribbling, etc.) Monroe has a wider range of skills. But I understand what you mean about Ekpe being a winning basketball player. I’m not prepared to say Monroe is a losing player. But Ekpe definitely is a player when, at his best, will help you win and maybe win big.

  • earl monroe

    Its not Udoh that should be judged its Riley for not making the right pick

  • dan

    Riley has not been GM or built a team before. look at his draft record with the Griz before they moved to Memphis. Riley was just horrible.

  • Young

    Funny thing is, if Ekpe was on a WINNING team, he probably would help them win. San Antonio or someone like that. But he’s on the warriors who need talent / stars. Thats what the draft lottery is setup to give losing teams, but Riley picked the “winner”, who will only look good in his proper role which by the way will be after his rookie contract expires and a “winning” team picks him up for the cheap…

    Go warriors…lmbo

  • Ultra-Humanite

    Ekpe Udoh does not play demonstrably better defense than Greg Monroe so that’s a poor excuse to have passed on Monroe, not to mention that Ekpe Udoh is so terrible on offense the Warriors are actually better off with him sitting on the bench. If his defense were so incredible as to make up for that I could see it, but that is not nearly the case.

  • ZKRiddler

    The easiest way to determine why Monroe should have been drafted ahead of Udoh is age. Monroe is 3 or 4 years younger and therefore has a higher upside. Taken with his offensive skills, Monroe has more time to develop the defensive skills needed to make him a complete player.

  • Dublin John


    I am dumbfounded that someone so inept at their job (assessing NBA talent) can maintain a position in that capacity in a very competitive profession. In corporate Amercia, Riley would of been fired ages ago. He clearly made a mistake in judging Edoh vs. Monroe and personally, I think he did the same with Klay Thompson. What draft pick has he had that was consider good? Monta Ellis, taken in the second round passed by all the other teams proving he just caught lightning in a bottle on that pick (i.e. lucky, blind chicken will pickup a kernal now and then).

  • robert rowell

    #22 larry riley did not pick monta. he wasn’t with the team. i don’t even think riley had an nba job.

  • CoachPat

    Bottom line is they’re both really ugly dudes.

  • ChuckDurn

    Monta was picked way before Riley was on the job. But he was here to pick Curry, who wasn’t universally recognized at the time as the best guy to pick. He got that one right.

  • Martina

    Monroe is 3 years younger than Udoh, 4 inches taller, and he can score, rebound, and pass the ball. Monroe is highly skilled and Udoh is a project. I still don’t know why Riley selected Udoh ahead of Monroe. It seems indefensible.

  • Lars54

    Udoh was drafted because of his superior defensive skills, the Warriors have been just woeful in this area, it’s not really fair to critisise him for his shooting, he’s not a shooter, obviously. I thought he had nice game last night, his role is to bottle up bigs, block shots, get put backs, he was doing all this last night pretty effectively. Would Monroe have been a better pick, probably, but the draft is always a crap shoot, Riley’s record overall has been good. I think Udoh will be nice player for Warriors, you watch.

  • Dave

    In 2006 Riley was hired as an assistant coach with the Warriors.

    We are very happy to add Larry to our coaching staff,” said Mullin. “He has a great deal of experience in this league and we are confident that he can assist in the continued development of our team and our players.”

    In 2009, he became GM.

    Pior to all of that, Riley was with the Grizzlies and Bucks.


  • Dave

    Warriors GM Larry Riley To Be Retained As GM/Executive VP Of Basketball Operations

    “I think Larry has done a great job and I’ve been very pleased with his performance,” said Warriors Owner Joe Lacob. “He’s had a vision since he took the job less than two years ago and he has certainly helped move this team in an extremely positive direction…”


  • Derek

    What’s with all this crap that Udoh is some type of great defender. They wouldn’t even play him against Howard or any other major bigman. Udoh does one thing well and that block shots. The guy is the second coming of Adonal Foyal. Bad hands, shot, bad from the line, who can’t rebound for his size. Udoh is NOT a winner, when has he won ?

    Warrior fans are excuse makers for failed scrubs occupying roster spots. There is NO team in the entire league willing to take Udoh over Monroe.

    Wake up and get real !

  • earl monroe

    Udoh’s age really means that his upside is limited that is a good point that was brought up

  • believewhat

    Monroe Vs Udoh, is it even a question, lol.

    It could be worse, Ws could have gotten someone like Thabeet. So, just hope Udoh grows and be a long time Warriors, even if as a role player.

  • dan

    Adonal can speak 5 languages ! please do not insult the great Adonal.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    Damn injuries to Curry and Kwame Brown or we might have had a chance at Dwight Howard, giving those two guys, Udoh and Klay Thompson up to Orlando. Now, we’ve got no chance. Really, where’s the big move we need to at least give us some hope? God bless the Niners for keeping my mind off of our beloved, cursed Dubs!

  • haastheman

    Yes, Monroe is playing better, and probably has a higher ceiling than Udoh. However, he didn’t want to play here. He made it pretty clear he didn’t want to be a warrior and that’s why we didn’t draft him.

  • David wood’s soul

    Fire Riley, elevate Bob Meyers and give him a shot. Lacob, it’s ok to acknowledge you messed up by not trading Curry for Cp3 when you had a chance, but it’s not ok for you to allow any more stupid moves or non moves that will continue to perpetuate a losing culture. Blow it up

  • Young

    @Lars54 #27

    Honestly, do you work for the Golden state warriors?

  • Niners in 2012

    Wow, people are really overrating the impact of Udoh defensively. He is not a difference maker. Stop acting like he’s Serge Ibaka or something, he is not that good.

  • PhillyJ

    @Young, yes Lars54 aka Bob Fitzgerald

  • The real problem is not that we took Udoh over Monroe. The real problem is that we were going after David Lee, and that influenced our decision not to draft Monroe. Imagine a Warriors team that had Monroe, no albatross Lee contract, and the ability to amnesty Biedrins. We could have essentially started over with Steph and Monroe as the two pieces of a young core to build around.

    That folks is the real problem here.

  • GregC

    @40: EvanZ. You got it right! I like David Lee and he brings a lot to the table, but it seems like the Warriors are basing a lot of their personal decisions around his short-comings on the defensive end. A starting tandem of Monroe and Lee would not be athletic enough and get torched consistently.

    However, the point remains that if you think Monroe is better than Udoh, at #6 you take him and figure out your roster later.

  • thewarriorsrule

    sure, the warriors drafted udoh because they needed a defensive big man, but as everyone goes in the top 10, you have to pick the best player available (not the role player who helps you win. that is for the spurs, etc. not for the warriors who haven’t established any winning yet).

    and even if you drafted monroe, you could have traded him to find a defensive big man, or you could have drafted udoh in the 2nd round, or trade your 6th pick to get udoh later.

    yes, larry riley should be fired. let jerry west be gm.

  • The Boourns

    To those of you touting Udoh’s defense as far superior. It’s really not considerably better. He fills more defensive stat columns like steals and blocks but his D-Rating isn’t significantly better than Monroe’s. Furthermore, hi Offensive Rating is a mediocre 85 vs. a D-Rating of 102 giving him a negative net rating. Meanwhile, Monroe is 118/107.

    While per 36 shows Udoh is clearly the better shotblocker, he fouls twice as often, has only a 1/2 steal more per game than Monroe, and records less defensive rebounds as well. So the only thing that Udoh does significantly better on the defensive end is actually shot blocking. Considering all the negatives associated with his offensive skill set, well, you’re fooling yourself if you’re trying to argue he’s the better player.

    Lastly, Udoh’s supposed limiting Monroe in the 4th quarter is misguided. Monroe got only 2 or 3 touches in the entire quarter. Detroit’s abysmal guard play had more of an impact on Monroe’s non-production in the 4th than Udoh did.

  • Moreaufan2

    Udoh is better on defense and Monroe is better on offense! But truly Udoh is very soft and needs to bulk up and little bit. Monroe has more girth and plays a more physical game!!!!!!

  • Moreaufan2

    Udoh is terrible! And not physical at all, plays soft, no toughness, yeah he blocks a few shots, so what, but not blocks that get us the posession!

  • Moreaufan2

    How do we pass up a guy who was so sought after, Udoh was not even the best player on his team, pls, Larry riley is an idiot

  • Holy Toledo

    Riley seems to draft nice, wide eyed, soft spoken, timid personalities like Udoh and Thompson…instead of confident, assertive personalities like say Kawhi Leonard or Monroe, just to name a couple.

    Which fits with his gosh darn nice guy thing, but maybe doesn’t make for the best GMs.

    Is the kid ready yet? Do the Warriors want to keep Larry around for the bad year we’re surely going to keep having, then move on at a better time for our GM in waiting?

    Riley is just too country nice guy in a world of cutthroat instinct about a player’s innate personality and how likely it is to translate on the floor. And most of those players he’s judging aren’t from a place he likely “gets.”

  • Moreaufan2

    yep we have too many nice guys, we need some more Goons like Dominic McGuire! he balls hard every game.

  • Moreaufan2

    I think we keep Klay Thompson though! he is coming along fine, and has made some big shots for us! We need to be patient with him for real!~ he can stroke the ball from anywhere on the court and he plays hard on defense

  • DP

    You guys made a tremendous upgrade getting Andrew Bogut. I don’t think he is injury prone. I think he’s had some freak accidents that have led to him being on IR.

    Incidentally the trading of Udoh speaks volumes to how the franchise valued him. I don’t Monroe would have been traded had he been in a Warriors uniform.

    Anywho…I think Udoh will get plenty of opportunities in the Bucks system to either demonstrate his worth or expose himself.