Center, 6’11”, 230 lbs.
Junior, University of Louisville
23 years old
2012-13 Stats: 9.8 PPG (53.4% FG, 65.2% FT, 0 3FGA), 9.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.5 BPG, 1.8 TOPG
STRENGTHS: The initial thought with a player from Senegal would be that he’s raw because of a lack of basketball experience. That couldn’t be further from the truth with Gorgui Dieng. Dieng is an extremely heady player who understands the nuances of the game, such as where to position himself on both ends of the court. Dieng was a key cog in Louisville’s championship run.
Dieng’s calling card is his defense. With a 7’4″ wingspan and a great feel for where to be, Dieng earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in the gritty, physical Big East. Dieng excels as a weakside shot blocker, yet he also shows skill in one-on-one situations. He’s athletic and quick, and is a few pounds of muscle away from being a big-time difference maker.
On offense, Dieng shows a polish that should only improve over time. He’s a very gifted passer, especially from the high post. Over time, he has developed a very reliable midrange jump shot — according to Draft Express, Dieng connected on 50 percent of his spot-up jumpers. He also has the athleticism, knowledge and finishing ability to do very well in the pick-and-roll.
WEAKNESSES: As a 23-year-old junior, Dieng is generally three years older than his classmates. As such, some have questioned just how much his game will evolve. What you see may be what you get, and while that could help him to a long career, he may never be a star that you hope for with a lottery pick. Dieng will never be a dominant offensive player. He doesn’t show much with his back to the basket in the low post, instead serving as more of a garbage man and high post facilitator. He also could stand to put on more muscle, as bigger post players may push him around in his early career. Dieng missed the combine with a sprained ankle, so execs couldn’t see how he stacks up physically to other bigs in this class.
HOW HE’D FIT WITH THE KINGS: Dieng could conceivably start alongside DeMarcus Cousins, as the two seem to complement each other well. Dieng can be that shot blocker the Kings have needed, and he would instantly improve the Kings team defense thanks to his ability to help on guards in the lane and on the perimeter. On offense, Sacramento doesn’t necessarily need another scorer, and that’s good because Dieng isn’t a go-to guy. Instead, Dieng can fill in where needed — crashing the boards, setting screens, pick-and-pop — and having two big men who can pick apart defenses with passing is a bonus. The more likely scenario is Dieng starts as a reserve and provides size when Cousins needs a rest. He’d be a good asset for the second unit — running offense from the high post, looking for shooters like Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton (if they’re still around).
SCOTT - Yes. I considered prefacing this with “if the Kings move down” but forget it. I am a huge Dieng fan, and the only question for the Kings is if he’s worth the No. 7 pick. There will probably be better prospects on the board, but I certainly wouldn’t be mad if Dieng was the pick. I think Gorgui has a chance to impact a defense like Marc Gasol, and he also shows a great feel for the offensive side of the ball. He’s the type of player I like to have on my team, and he’s got a championship to his credit.
BRYANT WEST - Yes, but it would absolutely have to be a move back and selection in the late teens. I see the benefits in Dieng – an above average athlete and a sharp shot blocker – but I believe if you’re going to take a role player (and that is what Dieng is, a defensive role player) then they have to be elite at that skill to be taken as high as No. 7. Dieng is not worth a top 7 pick, and the desire for a shotblocker next to Cousins has hyper-inflated Dieng’s standing around the Sacramento fandom. I would applaud the pick, if the Kings were picking at 16 or higher. But taking him at 7 would be passing up many better, more talented options.
WHERE HE GOES: The Kings have yet to be tied too closely to Dieng in mocks and reports. To this point, Dieng’s ceiling seems to be the late lottery, where teams like Philadelphia (11) and Dallas (13) may try to add a big. Boston (16), Atlanta (17/18) and Chicago (20) are three teams trying to win now who wouldn’t be deterred by Dieng’s age.
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