Looking at the history of the NBA Draft, there’s always players that are late risers. As the pre-draft process kicks off soon with the combine, workouts and interviews, there’s an opportunity to increase stock significantly.
Rebuilding teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder could be interested in these types of prospects.
Last season, Scottie Barnes, Ziaire Williams and Josh Giddey among others fit this mold. The season prior, it was guys like Patrick Williams and Aleksej Pokusevski. Although all of these players were selected at different picks, they were taken much higher than anticipated two or three months before the draft.
This season, that late riser could be Ousmane Dieng. He’s already started to skyrocket up boards, going from a late first round projection to a potential lottery pick.
Typically players like this rise due to their ceiling, potential and raw ability. Standing at 6-foot-10, he’s got the versatility to play quite a few positions at the next level. Dieng is extremely raw as a 19-year-old international prospect.
Just two months ago, he wasn’t being discussed as a lock to be taken in the first round. However, after an impressive end to the NBL season and declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft, he’s already starting to rise. He looked like a much different player to close the season than he did early on. That type of improvement throughout a season is indicative of his ability to grow in the NBA.
Currently projected to go late in the lottery or just outside of it, he’ll have the chance to increase his stock even more. Dieng has the frame and skillset to be a high impact player on both ends of the floor, which he could showcase in team workouts leading up to the draft on June 23.
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Despite having the size of a forward or small ball center, Dieng possesses the ability to handle the ball and create his own shot. With his height and space creation, he’s a tough cover for any defender. He also is a talented and willing passer for his position.
Again, Dieng is still raw and hasn’t ever played anywhere near the level of talent he will in the NBA, but the tools and upside are there.
If there’s one major knock on Dieng, it’s his shot. The mechanics look fluid, but he’s really struggled to convert from deep. He’s also got quite a bit of work to do on his frame, weighing just 200 pounds and known for avoiding contact on drives. This isn’t uncommon for players with his build.
If all goes well over the next six weeks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be taken in the top ten due to pure upside. However, he’ll have to really impress teams and clear any red flags teams have on him.
Regardless, Dieng will be a project at the next level. It’s just a matter of which team is willing to take the time developing him. A team like the Thunder should consider taking that risk depending on where their picks fall.
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