Tier Five: Throwing Darts
Three vastly different players make up the fifth tier: A traditional big man, an upside swing at forward, and a safer bet who took a bit longer to blossom.
15. Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers
- DRAFT AGE: 16
- HEIGHT: 6’8”
- WEIGHT: 216 lbs
- POSITION: Big Wing
A relative unknown to many, this French forward turned down offers from elite college basketball programs and the G League Ignite to join the NBL’s ‘Next Stars’ program instead. After a rough start to his season, Dieng has come along nicely with impressive displays of shooting, playmaking, ball-handling, and defending.
Dieng is an upside pick who will surely need time to hone his abilities at the next level. The jumper, while pretty and sometimes effective, has been terribly inefficient in the pros. At times, he gets lost on defense and is prone to commit unnecessary fouls out of desperation.
Given the Spurs’ current situation, Dieng would be a great long-term project for this club as a late first-round selection. No one on the team possesses his union of shooting potential, defensive instincts, and guard skills from a projected forward. Picking twice in the 20s, San Antonio can afford to swing for the fences.
14. Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
- DRAFT AGE: 21
- HEIGHT: 6’5”
- WEIGHT: 215 lbs
- POSITION: Wing
What can’t Ochai Agbaji do on a basketball court? Already touting defensive pedigree that nearly got him drafted a year ago, Agbaji took an extra year in college to expand his skill-set and extend his shooting range beyond the 3-point line. That, coupled with keen cutting ability and flashes of competency as a shot creator, makes him an effective player on and off the ball.
At worst, Agbaji is a high-level rotational role player who can defend several positions. At best, he can become one of a team’s top options while drawing the defensive assignments that no one else wants.
If he were just two or three inches taller and a few years younger, we’d be talking about Agbaji as one of the five best prospects in this draft. He doesn’t have any say in that, but what he can control is his effort level, which never wavers. Quite frankly, he might be too low in these rankings.
13. Mark Williams, Duke
- DRAFT AGE: 20
- HEIGHT: 7’1”
- WEIGHT: 242 lbs
- POSITION: Center
A throwback center who knows his role and plays it to a tee, Williams leverages his size and paint positioning to dominate the low block. He takes high-efficiency shots at the basket, oftentimes spinning or dropstepping his way to a ferocious dunk inside. With great hands and a massive wingspan, Williams can pin a shot on one end and finish a pick-and-roll on the other.
Now and again, the Blue Devil flashes a potential jump shot—though it’s not something you should outright expect from him. In terms of pure center play, he brings essential skills to the table that should make him a seamless fit for any team. Anyone who dares attack him one-on-one near the basket ends up regretting it, but he’s easily exposed when switched to on the perimeter.
In San Antonio, he’d essentially serve as Poeltl insurance and a servicable backup who would maintain many of the same traits in the Spurs system.