San Antonio’s key to the 2022 draft is addressing substantial needs while still taking shots at high-upside talent. They’d be getting the best of both worlds with French teenager Ousmane Dieng, who jumps to the NBA after a year playing in Australia’s NBL. A rangy and skilled wing with a deep bag of guard skills, Dieng is adept at switching modes between creating his shot or flowing within the context of a team setting.
Bluntly said, Dieng’s percentages from his first half of NBL action were horrid. Even so, he managed to contribute by disrupting his opposition on defense with impressive lateral quickness and reaction time to match. He loves to jump passing lanes or swipe at the ball to generate turnovers.
Even so, Dieng has the wherewithal to do so without overreaching or gambling to a fault. Plus, his wide reach and defensive instincts make him an intriguing weakside shot blocker who effectively protects the basket against driving opponents.
His dribble package is diverse with a quick first step and counters that force his defender off balance. Dieng shows flashes of dazzling court vision with skip passes over the top of his matchup which often follows a screen or chain dribble. By the same token, he identifies gaps in the defense and works to exploit them.
Dieng has as much potential as anyone in the class, which means he also has a longer runway to become an impact player. The shot selection needs to be fine-tuned and his jump shot is extremely inconsistent—though Dieng has shown promise as a 3-point shooter when stationary and off the dribble. He’ll need to spend time in the weight room to pack on muscle so that he can drive more effectively. Dieng cannot afford to be contact-averse in the NBA like he was in the NBL.
San Antonio can be patient with Dieng as there are no pressing playoff expectations at this point in the team’s development. Without looming pressure, the Spurs are a perfect destination to hone Dieng’s skill and unlock his best self.