The Miami Heat are finally up to bat, and with the 27th pick in the draft, they select Michigan Freshman Moussa Diabate.
A lot of you may see this pick as a total curveball with some better-known names still left on the board, but this feels too on-brand for the Heat to overlook. I’m a part of what feels like a small minority that favors Diabate over Caleb Houstan as Michigan’s best pro prospect and some intel suggests that some NBA scouts may be eyeing him in the 20s.
Diabate is a high-energy, high-motor big man that I think some team may target in the mid-to-late-first round of this year’s draft to prevent him from returning to school and potentially raising his stock. While I have come to think of Diabate as more of a modern center, he has played most of his minutes with Michigan at the power forward spot with Hunter Dickinson playing the five, and I think this is part of the reason he hasn’t turned as many heads as some other young bigs have this season.
Diabate has not exactly been a model of consistency this season, but his potential as a switchable defender that can hold his own on the perimeter is what makes him so appealing. On the other end of the floor, he’s shown flashes of comfort with putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim with deceivingly good acceleration for someone his size.
To be clear, I think he would largely benefit by returning to play one more year in college before entering the draft. But if he begins getting good feedback from NBA teams in the pre-draft process, I think Miami could be one of the best landing spots for him, where he can come in games and focus on playing defense and making high-energy plays off the bench behind Bam Adebayo.