RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Gorgui DiengPosted by BHayes on June 5th, 2013
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of 20 of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.
Player Name: Gorgui Dieng
Height/Weight: 6’11”/230 lbs.
NBA Position: Center
Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round
Overview: His ceiling may not be as high as that of many of his draft-mates, but Gorgui Dieng should serve as a safe investment for a team on the back end of the first round. The Senegalese big man spent the last three seasons anchoring the paint for the reigning NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals. Despite never averaging double figures in points per game, he still found ways to deliver significant impact for the Cards. In fact, a legitimate argument could be constructed that Dieng was the most valuable player for the 2013 champs (all due apologies to Russ Smith). The bulk of Dieng’s value came on the defensive end, where his disciplined shot-blocking served as an ideal back line of defense for Rick Pitino’s aggressive, risk-taking approach to guarding the perimeter. And while Dieng may never be mistaken for a prolific scorer on the other end, his offensive game did accumulate some polish over the course of his years at the ‘Ville, as he enters the draft as a capable 12-15 foot jump shooter and an above-average passer for a big man – two skills he could not have been given credit for two years ago. His title game effort against Michigan was a nice summation of his current skill set: eight points (on 4-6 shooting), eight rebounds, six assists, and three blocks. And of course, all those numbers came in a winning effort. Beyond the talented cast of teammates and his own substantial abilities, it is no surprise that winning followed Dieng to Louisville, as he is the hard-working, high-character type that coaches love to find on their rosters.
Will Translate to the NBA: It should be a quick adjustment to NBA basketball on the defensive end for Dieng. At 230 pounds, he is a bit on the light side for NBA bigs, but he’s a capable, intelligent shot-blocker who always seems to be in the right position. Dieng is a solid athlete who is capable of stepping out to the perimeter and guarding his position there as well, and should also prove relatively adept in pick-and-roll defense, despite existing in a defensive scheme at Louisville that rarely included it as one of his duties. Additionally, it’s no secret that rebounding is one of the most translatable skills from college to the pros, and with Dieng’s top-100 national rankings in both defensive and offensive rebounding rates last year, it’s safe to assume he will prove ready for battle on the NBA backboards relatively early on.
Needs Work: The ultimate trajectory of Dieng’s career will largely depend on his offensive contributions in the League. His defense and rebounding talents should be enough to keep him in rotations for years to come, but he will need to continue to develop his offense if he’s to have any chance to start in the NBA. Most of his points in college came off face-ups (usually within 12 feet) and dives to the rim; very rarely was Dieng given the ball in the post with his back to basket and asked to go to work down low. While some development of that limited post-up game would be nice, the more natural expansion of Dieng’s offensive skill set is probably becoming a more consistent jump shooter from 12 to 18 feet. As mentioned earlier, his distribution out of the post steadily improved during his college years. If he can continue to cultivate that passing ability while becoming more competent as a mid-range shooter, he could potentially become a viable option to work through in the high post. We are a long, long ways from that right now, but Dieng’s work ethic gives his offensive development at least a shot at happening, even at the very old age (for an NBA rookie) of 23.
Best Case Scenario: While the post player prototype may be both shrinking and becoming more athletic, true serviceable bigs are still a commodity in today’s NBA. The immediate best case scenario for a team drafting Dieng (quite possibly a club with May and June basketball plans) would be to see him step into a rotation and provide 15 to 20 productive minutes a game as a rebounder and shot-blocker. Long term, Dieng’s already advanced age and immature offensive game limit his projections, but if everything breaks right, the former Louisville big man could carve out an extended NBA career as a solid starting center. It’s difficult to imagine him breaking through to an All-Star level, but anything short of that shouldn’t be considered a total shock.
Best NBA Fit: With Dieng expected to come off the board somewhere in the back half of the first round, playoff level squads with immediate needs in their back-up frontcourt would seem to make the most sense. The Brooklyn Nets at #22 are the first team in the back half to fit this bill, as Dieng would provide good minutes in relief of Brook Lopez. Drafting immediately after the Nets at #23 are the Indiana Pacers, whose bench issues were heavily magnified over the course of the last few weeks. Dieng would be an immediate upgrade over Ian Mahinmi and Tyler Hansbrough there. Finally, if the Louisville product was somehow still on the board when Oklahoma City drafts at #29, it would make a lot of sense for Sam Presti to pull the trigger on a player that could play a role on a team looking to win a title immediately.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Big man with excellent length and defensive potential. Considered hard working player and a high character guy who was an excellent run/jump athlete before becoming a collegian and joining Louisville.”