SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng.
NAME: Gorgui Dieng.
AGE ON DRAFT NIGHT: 23 years, five months.
MEASUREMENTS: 6'11, 230 pounds, 7'3.5 wingspan, 9'3.5 standing reach.
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RELEVANT ADVANCED STAT: 22.1 defensive-rebounding percentage. Dieng is one of the only centers in this draft with the frame to hold his own on the defensive glass as a rookie.
SB NATION BIG BOARD POSITION: No. 13.
NBA CEILING: Emeka Okafor.
NBA FLOOR: Nazr Mohammed.
JONATHAN TJARKS' ANALYSIS
There are a lot of raw 6'10+ African centers in college basketball who don't know how to play. Gorgui Dieng is the player their coaches are hoping they become. A native of Senegal who came to the U.S. as a 16-year-old, Dieng was a two-star recruit in high school. He leaves college as the defensive anchor of a national championship team, averaging ten points, nine rebounds and 2.5 blocks on 53 percent shooting.
At 6'11 and 230 pounds with a 7'4 wingspan, Dieng has the length and athleticism to make up for being slightly undersized for a center. He's not an elite athlete, but he is an above-the-rim presence who will alter and block shots at the next level.
His offensive game is what makes him intriguing. While he will never be a post presence at the next level, he is a consistent mid-range shooter who had to be defended out to 15 feet and beyond. He has also become an excellent passer, with two assists a game. In the Big East championship game, he racked up eight assists against Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone.
Better yet, big men with that type of feel for the game are rarely as good defensively as Dieng. Every team in the NBA can use a two-way center with the ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball.
DRAFT EXPRESS SCOUTING REPORT
OTHER SB NATION SCOUTING REPORTS:
The above would be the undisputed way of the sports world were it not for athletes like Gorgui Dieng. I only say that I've met and spoken with him multiple times in order to put weight behind these words: He is the genuine article. The quotes you hear, the comments you read, the actions you see, that's him.
Cardinal fans have celebrated the Senior Days of former players with tremendous talent, work ethic, intelligence, character and humility, but I'm not sure they've ever bid farewell to one with this type of combination of all those traits.
Louisville's most interesting man will be celebrated, and eventually missed, more than any of us could have envisioned three autumns ago.
Dieng posted two seasons of great D-ASPM and has the reputation to go with it. He may have a future as a defensive focused +/- favorite similar to Ekpe Udoh. He also may not be very good.
Dieng is at least okay at pretty much everything. Most people are familiar with his strong reputation as a passer, but he is also surprisingly good at creating shots for himself at the rim, albeit at low volume. In this draft only Mike Muscala needed less help getting to the rim (51% of Dieng's points at the rim were assisted-- average for a center is 59%).
It is a point which has already been made by many others, but Dieng's age and well rounded statistical profile remind me of Ekpe Udoh.
Some will regard this comparison as a criticism since Udoh's conventional numbers as a pro have not been impressive. But he is a solid bench big and has been something of a plus-minus All-Star. There is some evidence that Dieng too brought more to the table in college than his boxscore numbers would suggest: while Dieng was only 135th in the NCAA in PER in 2013, he was 9th in statistical plus-minus.
I'm very high on Dieng and think that he's a rotation player in the NBA right now. While he doesn't have the agility or hops of a Nerlens Noel, he does have the same high-level instincts that elite defensive players do. If he can just get a little bit stronger, he could be an excellent NBA defender for a decade in the NBA. I'd happily take him at the end of the lottery and take at worst a solid defender off the bench. With his high post offense and solid all-around defensive game, he has potential to become a Marc Gasol -lite type of player. I think he ends up turning into a solid, top-15-20 center in the NBA.
At 23 years old, some feel that Dieng is nearing his peak, but there is no reason to believe that's the case. Dieng has made significant progress in his game since arriving he arrived at Louisville and he has proven that he is willing to improve the weak facets of his game. He has a solid five years before he reaches his prime at age 28 or 29, giving him an amplitude of time to maximize his untapped potential.
Dieng might forever be destined to be a role player in the NBA, but that is not to say he won't be a difference maker on a team. He has the upside to be a lockdown defender and can do what you need him to do offensively, either as the 3rd or 4th option on the floor. Gorgui Dieng is a high character individual that has proven he is willing to learn and take his game to the next level.
For more coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA Draft 2013 section.