Udoh: 'It's great to be a Milwaukee Buck'
NOV 19, 2012 4:00a ET
Spend enough time around him and you're bound to hear him say it: "It's great to be a Milwaukee Buck."
That came close to not happening. In fact, the Monta Ellis- Andrew Bogut trade wouldn't have happened unless Golden State overcame its reluctance to part ways with its former first round pick.
"We wouldn't have done it without him," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "It's not that we were trying to compare him to anybody else. It's just that we thought he was a quality big player that could help us."
And while stats may not necessarily show it, the Bucks are glad they held out for him.
Udoh has become a valuable defender and a big reason why Milwaukee has vastly improved its interior defense. He's not a great rebounder, but that might be his only flaw on that end of the court.
"He's always in the right spot," Skiles said. "He's early in his help instead of late. He's a very high-level big guy for being in the right spot, anticipating the action and seeing it coming. His only thing is on the d-board and he's trying to make it an emphasis."
The trade caught Udoh off guard. Less than two years after the Warriors took him with the sixth overall pick, they were shipping him away. He didn't know what to expect with his new team.
Udoh spent two seasons at the University of Michigan, but didn't become a serious draft prospect until he transferred to Baylor for one year and was named an honorable mention All-American.
After the trade to the Bucks, Udoh was about to play for his fourth team in just three years. So many things were running through his head after the trade that he admitted that while he listened in phone conversations he had with his new team on the drive to Milwaukee, it didn't really process.
"Of course I was apprehensive," Udoh said. "I came here and I didn't know much. It really messed me up that I got traded so I just went out here and played."
After a full summer and training camp with his new team, he's settled in. But because his blocked shots are down, there's nothing in the box score that shows that. Skiles says you really have to understand what the Bucks are trying to do defensively to see his impact on the game.
"Being there defensively is big," Udoh said. "I alter shots or I'm just there on the pick-and-roll coverage. You've always got to know that stuff and be ready. Every little thing helps us."
Often paired with fellow forward Larry Sanders, the duo is becoming what the Bucks envisioned when they drafted Sanders and traded for Udoh. Early on, it's been hard to score inside when the two are together on the floor.
"It's crazy. On defense we both can guard on the perimeter and we both can get blocked shots," Udoh said. "All the time we're talking. In timeouts we're talking what we need to do. He always has my back. I always have his back."
Defense will always be Udoh's forte. But his offensive game is developing and he certainly isn't a liability on that end of the floor and has become a good free throw shooter.
"He has good post moves," Skiles said. "He screens, he rolls. He can move around the floor. He can put the ball down and make dribble handoff plays that help facilitate the offense for other guys."
Some analysts considered Udoh a throw-in when the Bucks acquired him. Some thought they just acquired him as a guy that had size as a short-term solution to losing Bogut. But the more he plays, it is easy to see why Golden State was reluctant to give him up and also why Milwaukee had to have him.
He's not flashy and not as visually emotional as Sanders -- in fact, he may be always underappreciated.
That's quite alright to Udoh. He's just going about his business and letting everyone know how happy he is to be in Milwaukee.
"We're really starting to play good ball," Udoh said. "We can't feel good about ourselves. We've got to keep being dogs out there and it will all pay off."
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