Part II of our Getting To Know Your Utah Jazz segment focuses on another piece involved in the Jazz’s off season trade with the Golden State Warriors. Another guy that hasn’t been talked about much so let’s get to know : Andris Biedrins.
Biedrins started his professional basketball in his home country of Latvia. Like most overseas players that make their way into the NBA, Biedrins started laying professionally at a young age, 16. In his last season in Latvia before declaring for the NBA draft (2003-2004), Biedrins played in 28 games, averaging 18.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.86 blocks per game. All while shooting an amazing 61.5% from the field.
In the 2004 NBA Draft, Biedrins was selected in the 1st round, 11th overall, by the Golden State Warriors. He has spent his entire career with the Warriors, up until this off season.
Biedrins’ first 2 seasons in the league were very weak. He averaged 3.7 points, 4.1 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game. Not stellar numbers coming from the 11th pick in the draft.
However, things took a turn into his 3rd season in the NBA. The Warriors decided to replace head coach Mike Montgomery with, who has been elected to be one of the NBA’s Greatest Coaches of all time, Don Nelson. Five games into the season, Nelson put Biedrins into the starting lineup, and it worked. Playing time increased to 28.9 minutes per game and his averages in every statistical category improved dramatically. 10.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, all while shooting an incredible 62.1% from the field, which was ranked 1st in the NBA.
Biedrins continued to put up impressive numbers up until last season when he averaged career lows in every statistical category. Golden State had acquired Andrew Bogut from the Milwaukee Bucks at the same time they acquired Richard Jefferson. Bogut got the start last season. Golden State had also drafted a young center out of Vanderbilt, Festus Ezeli, who took minutes away from Biedrins in the rotation.
This off season, Biedrins made his way to Utah via a trade with the Warriors. He had spent his entire career in Golden State up to that point. He, like Richard Jefferson, finds his way onto a team that is young and rebuilding. The Jazz are known for there young bigs in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. So how does Biedrins fit into the plan?
The Jazz have 5 big men on this roster. Favors, Kanter, Jeremy Evans, Biedrins, and rookie Rudy Gobert. Favors and Kanter will get the start and the majority of the minutes.
Biedrins can see the court, but not for much time. As of now, Biedrins is the backup to Kanter at the center position. That could change depending on how the progress of Gobert comes along. If Gobert impresses the coaching staff and can be a game changer on the defensive end, Biedrins could be pushed out of the rotation again.
To start the season, I expect Biedrins to get somewhere between 15-20 minutes a game, but throughout the season, I can see that number dropping between 5-10.
Aside from what he has done on the court, Biedrins is a pretty stand up guy. He is known for his participation in several charities. He was active in the Warriors community programs his rookie season, participated in the team’s Thanksgiving Food Serving in Danville, hosted a halftime Holiday Party for underprivileged children at a home game vs the Memphis Grizzlies, attended the Warriors Kids Celebration, and also visited injured American troops just back from Iraq at the National Naval Medical Center outside of Washington D.C., when the team visited the Washington Wizards for an away game.
Biedrins may not be a game changer on the court, but he seems like a “Jazz Guy”. Someone who helps in the community the way that he has, will make the Jazz management, and Jazz fans alike, want to keep this guy around. Andris Beidrins…..welcome to Utah!