No. 2: Khalifa Diop is still unpolished
Heading into it, it seemed exciting to get to see Khalifa Diop play in the Summer League this year. Diop was the 39th overall pick by the Cavaliers in the 2022 NBA Draft, and he played overseas last year, and was at minimum, a draft-and-stash selection for this past season.
One thing that really stuck out from Diop’s play on Sunday were his fouls. He had six fouls in 18 minutes total, which was concerning. Even overseas, he had the tendency to be in foul trouble. He averaged a career 6.1 fouls per-36 minutes in 143 total games overseas since 2018.
Being able to play without fouling is a key component in becoming a viable, let alone, very effective NBA big. The Cavs’ big men, both Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, can play without fouling excessively, which makes them that much more valuable to the team.
Yes, Diop is only 21 years old. He has plenty of room to grow. However, considering he hasn’t shown a lot, if any progression when it comes to his fouling tendency, it’s difficult to project if he’ll ever be a successful center in the NBA.
He did grab nine rebounds, which was encouraging. He also added in a block and 3 assists, both good signs to see for a young big man. But to be honest, that’s where the positive parts of his game end. Yes, he did shoot a nice three-of-four from the field, but other than that, that’s really all.
He was a plus-three for the game, which does sound nice, but when you consider he had the third-worst plus-minus on the team, and the Cavaliers won by a margin of 23 points, it isn’t tremendous. At least he wasn’t a net negative to the team, though.
It’s not fun to grill him, of course, it’s just clear Diop isn’t ready for NBA basketball yet. Maybe giving him a shot in the G League would be a better idea, or even sending him back overseas for a bit longer. Either way, Diop getting an NBA roster spot doesn’t appear to be in his cards anytime soon.
All in all, the Cavs had a phenomenal game against the Raptors, and hopefully for Cleveland, their hot streak continues. Going against the Grizzlies won’t be an easy task, as they have skilled big men in Kenneth Lofton Jr. and David Roddy, as well as the recent 45th overall pick, GG Jackson II.
As of now, it will awesome to watch the Cavs face the Grizzlies, as it should be quite an entertaining matchup to watch.