Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, Nick Mancini will be profiling the top 20 players available. The Cleveland Cavaliers currently own pick Nos. 1, 19, 31 and 33. Follow Nick on Twitter @nickmance.
No. 17. Gorgui Dieng – Louisville, Junior 6’-11”, 230 lbs, C
2013 stats – 9.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.5 bpg
In a draft loaded with big men, Gorgui Dieng remains one of the most interesting. While he is a menace on the defensive end, his offense leaves a lot to be desired. But he was a huge reason Rick Pitino is now walking around with a cardinal tattoo on his back.
Dieng raised his stock considerably in the NCAA Tournament. He was probably a fringe first-round pick going in and might have solidified himself in the mid-first round with his performance. And the reason he accomplished as much primarily revolves around his defensive prowess.
Dieng is a tremendous shot blocker, probably only behind Nerlens Noel in that department as far as this draft is concerned. Here is only one example from the National Championship Game.
He is that long, athletic defensive paint presence that teams always look for. He really excels around the rim defensively and is also a solid rebounder. This past season Dieng averaged nearly 10 boards per game for the Cardinals.
His long arms and leaping ability allow Dieng to sky for rebounds; his athleticism might be a bit underrated too. But he has two things going against him: his age (he is 23 and considered old for his class) and his offensive game (or lack thereof).
As far as his age is concerned, I don’t see that as a big deal. But when teams are looking at draft prospects, they aren’t looking for guys almost in there mid-twenties already. For examples sake; Kyrie Irving is 21 and just finished his second season. Paul George, who is the same age as Dieng, is heading into his fourth NBA campaign.
So Dieng already comes in without some of the upside most college players possess.
On his offensive game...well, it isn’t pretty. He is very raw and unpolished on that end of the floor and there is no denying that. He can finish at the rim, but if it isn’t a dunk than I’m not sure what it will be. He doesn’t have much outside of the paint. Now, I know that is the case with some other big men prospects this year, but like I said in the previous paragraph, his age doesn’t leave room for much growth.
That said, I do like Dieng. I think he fits with what the Cavs need aside from his offense. They desperately need a shot blocker to anchor Mike Brown’s new defensive system in the middle of the floor. Dieng would come in and be able to provide immediate minutes off the bench in that department specifically.
I’m not sure he lasts until No. 19, though, but if the Cavs pass on Noel--or trade the top pick--Dieng could be a serious target for the Wine and Gold on draft night.