The Cleveland Cavaliers will have a top-six pick and the 19th pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 27th. Today, we profile Gorgui Dieng.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Gorgui Dieng
Weight: 245 lbs.
Honors: All-Big East 1st Team, Big East Defensive Player of the Year
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 9.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.5 BPG, 53.4 FG%, 65.2 FT%
NCAA Tournament Stats: 8.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.5 BPG in six NCAA Tournament Games; eight points, eight rebounds, six assists, three blocks in NCAA Championship Game
The Cavaliers have the 19th pick in the NBA Draft. One of their biggest needs is a rim-protecting big man. This should make Gorgui Dieng a candidate for the Cavs’ second pick, assuming they don’t get Nerlens Noel. Let’s dive in and take a look at one of my favorite draft prospects in the mid-to-late first round.
The body’s there for Dieng. He’s a 6-11 lanky post with some long arms and a nice frame. He looks comfortable in his own skin as well, which is a good thing for NBA centers. He has continued to get stronger throughout his career at Louisville and definitely hasn’t shown any hesitance toward banging down low with the biggest and best in the college game. While he lacks quickness, he’s surprisingly agile for a big, and that works to his advantage on both ends of the floor. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he is fairly athletic, so that really isn’t a huge concern. Also, the guy played at Louisville. I think he can handle a high pace no problem, even if he’s not your typical explosive athlete that excels in that sort of game.
While he didn’t put up big numbers on offense at Louisville, Dieng has the ability to be a weapon on offense. He’s got some solid post moves, including an unorthodox up-and-under and a pretty effective running jump hook. His agility comes alive in the low post, where Dieng is active in trying to get position and makes for a tough matchup. He’s also an active offensive rebounder, good for both those highlight-running put-back slams and resetting the offense. Outside shooting isn’t his game, which could be a problem, because without a reliable mid-range game, posts are pretty easy to defend. Luckily, he can still be a weapon outside of the paint because of his abilities in PNR situations. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Dieng in the PNR as the roll man, because he’s got a good body to set an effective pick, and he can get to the basket pretty easily. This lends to his capabilities for a faster-paced team, as Dieng is perfectly happy being a screen man in the PNR and living off rolls and tip-ins offensively, and doesn’t necessarily need to be posted up like a conventional big.
Dieng’s more of a rim protector than an on-ball defender. He averaged 2.5 blocks this season, and had five five-plus block games. We know he’s great at smelling out shots, rotating from the weak side and spiking them. However, his capabilities as a shot-blocker have improved as his block numbers have gone down. Dieng doesn’t foul often, posting just 2.6 fouls/game; a good number for a defense-oriented center. He also has become more skilled at simply challenging shots rather than blocking them, and now he’s good at every aspect of rim protection, not just spiking shots away. On the ball, he’s greatly improved throughout this past season, though he still isn’t great outside of the paint due to his lack of quickness. He has been the anchor to one of the most efficient defenses in the nation the past two years, and this is the side of the ball he’ll have the most impact on.
Dieng’s awareness is great. He’s got great court vision and sense of what’s going on around him, which is what makes him so devastating on defense and such a threat in PNRs and as a passer on offense. Court awareness is an underrated aspect of any player’s game, and Dieng uses that to his advantage. One of the big knocks on Dieng is his age, as he is 23 heading into the draft. This is a bit of a red flag, as there are questions about Dieng’s room for development. This is a concern, and that’s going to keep him out of the top half of the draft more than likely. However, I think that we know what Dieng’s going to give us in the NBA, and he’s got the ability to be a bench rim protector on a good team right away while he learns how to play in NBA offenses.
I like a Tyson Chandler comparison. He’s definitely not the athlete Chandler is and was coming out of the draft, but Dieng’s got the court vision and size of a Chandler. Both also have very similar niches, as Chandler has proven in his New York tenure to excel in a fast-paced PNR offense, and he’s a great all-around defender. I think that Chandler is Dieng’s ceiling, and that’s a pretty solid ceiling for the 23-year-old center.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
The Cavs have an offensive center prospect already in Tyler Zeller. What they need is a defense-first center, preferably one that can protect the rim. Dieng would give them that. We also know that Kyrie Irving is a pick-n-roll demon, and when he runs these sets with Anderson Varejao, it’s special. When/if Varejao gets hurt, Dieng can fill that role. Also, if the Cavs get Otto Porter with their first pick, imagine Mike Brown’s “we ABSOLUTELY need a stop on this possession” lineup: suddenly, we get Irving/Gee/Porter/Varejao/Dieng. This I can live with. In fact, this has the potential to be one of the better defensive lineups in the league. Dieng is my optimal choice for the Cavaliers’ second first-rounder. If we can get him off the bench, and he has time to develop, Cleveland will have a fun defense next season.