Comparing any current player to a Hall of Famer comes under scrutiny, but when making parallels to an all-time great, more than one eyebrow is raised.
“Festus Ezeli is the best center this league has seen since Bill Russell ruled the boards in the NBA,” Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson said after the team’s recent playoff victory over San Antonio.
“Ezie’s potential to be an even better player than Russell is unbelievable. The kid didn’t even know what a basketball was until he was 15 years old and now he is on the verge of stardom,” Jackson said of the Nigerian-born pivot man.
Reminded that during the 2012-13 season Ezeli averaged just 2.4 points and 4 rebounds per game compared to Russell’s lifetime game averages of 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds, Jackson said, “Of course he did. If I balled against the same collection of stiffs as Russell, like Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor, I’d have averaged 50 points and 30 rebounds.”