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
Gorgui Dieng’s overall presence on the defensive end was crucial for the 2013 NCAA Champs
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.
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