The 2013 NBA draft, unlike many drafts in recent years, is a bit short on prospects born outside of North America. One of the few players expected to be drafted in the first round born internationally is Louisville’s big man, Gorgui Dieng. He is the most recent feature in our series of NBA Draft Profiles.
Here is a video highlighting his strengths and weaknesses.
Born in Kebemer, Senegal, Dieng attracted attention when he was named the MVP of the Nike basketball camp in 2009. For his senior year of high school, he moved to the United States and attended Huntington Prep, in West Virginia. For his first year in the USA, Dieng posted great numbers, averaging 15.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and an insane 7.2 blocks per game.
Because he gained attention a little later in his high school career, Dieng was not as heavily recruited as most prospects of his talents. The heaviest interest came from Marquette, Marshall and Louisville. Ultimately, Dieng felt that Louisville was the right school for him and decided to commit.
When he first arrived in Louisville, he was deemed ineligible to play by the NCAA. That meant he also wasn’t allowed to practice or workout with the team, which for a freshman who wasn’t exactly used to North American ball, would have been very damaging. Louisville appealed the decision, and the NCAA overturned its original decision. Dieng hasn’t had any issues since.
Expected draft position:
Chad Ford has him placed 28th overall to the Spurs. Draft Express put him at 22nd to Brooklyn and Draft Net pegs him 20th to the Bulls.
Dieng is a big man in the literal sense. He is 6″11 with a great wingspan stretching him out to 7″4. Athletically he is not as good as other big men in this draft like Nerlens Noel or Cody Zeller but he more than holds his own. He has added a lot of weight to his frame since arriving to the USA which has made him considerably stronger than he was. Dieng is probably one of the stronger guys in this draft and one of the few who should not have any troubles tossing his weight around down low from day one in the NBA.
He is smart defensively and very responsible. Dieng is a great shot blocker but he does not go for blocks that he knows are not statistically intelligent. One on one in the post, he has great instincts and knows how to stop his man from getting in his comfortable spots.
Another important aspect to his defensive game is that Dieng has managed to cut down on his fouling rate a pretty great amount. He averaged almost 33 minutes per game his Junior season, which for a big man, is very impressive. Being able to stay on the court is often a problem for young big men in the NBA, his college numbers indicate that Dieng should be able to refrain from getting into foul trouble often in the pros.
On the offensive side of things, Dieng has shown improvement in his mid range jumper, especially in his senior season. It is something that he will need to keep working on but if he masters it, it will make him a much tougher weapon on offense. Aside from that, he is not the type of player around whom you build an offense. Dieng gets most of his points from missed shots because of his great motor.
One more aspect that is a huge positive as a big man is his ability to pass the ball. During his Junior season, Dieng averaged two assists per game which, as a big man in the NCAA, is an excellent number. That should translate to the NBA and should have scouts excited.
At 23 years of age, Dieng is one of the older prospects in this year’s draft. That will limit, at least to some teams, his ability to get significantly better. Another issue with his age is that Dieng is still fairly raw in a lot of aspects of the game. That could be attributed to him playing outside of the USA for the majority of his life but it doesn’t change the fact that Dieng will have some work to do on his fundamentals when he arrives to the NBA.
I’m not sure how much Dieng can really improve. His game is largely mechanical on offense and defensively, he is about as good as he can be. He uses his athleticism well and has good timing, but one wonders how good his basketball IQ is. He is still getting used to the North American game, which is more developed than what he is used to and sometimes he can look at little lost on the court.
Another area for Dieng to work on is his offensive game in the post. He still struggles to score with his back to the basket. He is not the type of player to whom you can throw the ball down low, isolate and let him work on his defender for two points. So far, his only consistent move in the post has been a right handed hook shot. Though it works on occasion, teams in the NBA will quickly key in on the fact that he only really has one move and will shut it down as quickly as possible. Versatility is the biggest importance and the NBA and Dieng will have to work on adding some new moves to his game.
What to expect in the NBA:
Honestly, in the spots Dieng is expected to be drafted, he is a low risk, high reward type of pick. He will never be your team’s leading scorer or best player, that is certain, but with the right development, he could become a great paint defender and energy player. I would compare to someone like a poor man’s Tyson Chandler.
If he is drafted by a team with veterans that would allow Dieng to come along slowly while getting mentored by big men who have good amounts of NBA experience, I see Dieng become a good regular starter in a few years from now.