Posted: 10:03 a.m. Sunday, June 9, 2013
By Kris Willis
While we are not exactly sure what direction the Atlanta Hawks might go with their two first round selections in the 2013 NBA Draft most prognosticators are expecting them to go big with at least one of the picks. That theory is further backed up due to the fact that there is a number of big men in the draft that project to be picked in the mid to late first round stage where Atlanta will be picking.
One of those big men prospects is Louisville center Gorgui Dieng who has been projected to be drafted anywhere from the late lottery to late in the first round in most mock drafts. What I like most about Dieng is his NBA readiness in that he is likely ready to step in as a backup/role player from day one. His defensive awareness is his biggest strength and although he does struggle in the post against some stronger players the positives outweigh the negatives. Like nearly all college players he needs to add strength and bulk to become more effective as a defender and a rebounder.
Offensively Dieng is a work in progress as he really doesn't have a lot of success as a back to the basket scoring option. His does have somewhat of a face up game with an improving 15 foot jumper and is a good passer. He is also a good athlete with good speed and jumping ability and showed in college that he could be factor in Louisville's transition game.
No doubt Dieng's stock slid slightly when he was forced to miss the Draft Combine due to an ankle injury. He has returned from that injury and has begun working out for teams so his stock could once again be on the rise. There is a good possibility that he may be gone by the time the Atlanta Hawks pick at No. 17.
Dieng is a little older at 23 than some of the other prospects and that may limit his ceiling. Even with his offensive deficiencies, the NBA has always found a place for shot blockers and with a big wing span and an over nine foot standing reach combined with solid instincts, Dieng can definitely do that. He looks like he would slot nicely next to Al Horford defensively and could make up for the loss of Josh Smith's defensive presence if he does not return to the Hawks in free agency.