San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospect #4: Ibou Dianko Badji (F.C. Barcelona)
They always say never to fall in love with a player because of their measurables, but here I am doing precisely that. Part of me cannot believe that some mock drafts have Ibou Dianko Badji going completely undrafted, but part of me can also understand the reasoning behind that.
The 7’1″ big man from Senegal currently plays for F.C. Barcelona, last weighing in at about 240 lbs with an approximate 7’8″ wingspan, giving him very similar measurements to Rudy Gobert. At the time of me writing my way-too-early list of Spurs draft prospects this past January, Badji had only just made his debut with Barcelona’s first team, as he had played most of his minutes at that point with their B Team in the LEB Plata.
Since then, not much has changed. Badji has only played a total of six games with Barcelona’s first team (three in the Euroleague and three in the ACB) as opposed to 20 total games with their B Team. In those 20 games with F.C. Barcelona II, Badji has averaged 6.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in about 18 minutes per game.
That level of production is almost definitely not sufficient to warrant a first-round pick, and because he’s seen such average to subpar usage even with Barcelona’s second team, it may not even warrant a second-round pick for many front offices, especially in such a talented draft class.
Much like with Kai Jones, who is featured in my top 5 list of first-round draft prospects for the Spurs, the 18-year-old Badji has only played organized basketball for a few years. With that in mind, he likely still has a lot of room to grow in the near future, especially with his fundamentals. I think the best example of his future potential came in his participation in the FIBA U18 African Championship Tournament several months ago, where he averaged 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game and led Senegal to a second-place finish.
In terms of how he would benefit the Spurs, Badji is incredibly mobile for his size and has very good defensive and rebounding instincts despite his inexperience. While he’s currently only shooting 48 percent from the free-throw line and 20 percent from beyond the arc, his shot mechanics are quite smooth other than a tendency to lean back and swing his feet forward in his jump shot.
He has a very ready NBA body for his age and at the very least could serve as a decent rim-runner on offense and solid defensive presence in the paint on defense. All things considered though, his potential on both sides of the floor is incredibly high and well worth a gamble in the second round.
Next: Player #3