The San Antonio Spurs will undoubtedly do their due diligence in scouting out a new center or power forward that they desperately need. An intriguing player they should think about selecting if he’s available at number 29 in the 2016 NBA Draft is Cheick Diallo.
Diallo spent just one season at Kansas, and he’s a pretty enigmatic prospect. He underachieved at Kansas compared to what he was projected to do, and yet there’s buzz about his draft stock rising based on his raw potential at the next level.
Diallo never seemed to get off the bench at Kansas, evoking an immediate red flag about his ability to gain favor in an NBA rotation. Yet the skills he has flashed tend to make people optimistic about eventually putting it all together.
He’s not gigantic for his position, standing at 6’9’’ in shoes and only 219 LBS, but he has a wingspan of 7’4.5’’ and was recorded at the 2015 Hoop Summit with a standing reach of 9’1’’.
Diallo didn’t play much at Kansas, despite entering the program with impressive high school credentials. He was the 2015 MVP of both the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic.
Because of his lack of exposure in the NCAA, it was surprising that Diallo didn’t opt to return for at least another season. He only averaged 7.5 minutes per game for Kansas this past year.
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It speaks volumes about Diallo’s physical tools and enticing potential that he’s even being considered as a potential first rounder.
He’s a high energy guy who’s a fantastic defender, rebounder, and rim protector. His offensive game is still unpolished, but he can instantly make an impact in the NBA as a tenacious interior defender.
His lateral quickness is especially noteworthy, and he patrols the painted area effectively despite not having ideal size. His long arms help him overcome his lack of bulk, although if he were to add muscle once entering the NBA he could become an even better defender.
His rebounding numbers at Kansas were impressive relative to his playing time, as he averaged 2.5 rebounds per game in those 7.5 minutes per game. Spread out over 40 minutes, that’s over 13 rebounds per game.
Diallo also proved to be a terrific shot blocker while at Kansas. He averaged almost 5 blocks per 40 minutes.
What makes Diallo even more valuable on defense is that he possesses the quickness to switch onto guards in pick-and-roll situations. He uses his agile feet and long arms to be a nuisance on defense, whether he’s operating in the paint or on the perimeter.
Diallo’s biggest weaknesses at this stage of his development are his limited offensive game and his propensity to commit fouls. The fouling issue can be exploited by savvy professional players, but it can just as easily be fixed through coaching.
Having said that, it’s still alarming that Diallo lacks the intangible instincts to avoid being lured into avoidable fouls.
Diallo doesn’t offer much on the offensive end, but his motor on defense can be utilized by any team. He fills the needs of any squad looking for a solid defender at power forward or center who can rebound and block shots.
The Spurs are the best defensive team in the NBA, and Diallo could certainly add to their resolve in that regard.