Draft Projection: No. 23: Indiana Pacers
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: Dieng has enormous potential. He's long, a terrific shot-blocker and rebounder and a surprisingly good passer out of the post. Like Plumlee, his main issues have to do with age. Teams wonder if he has peaked and have some concerns about his injury history.
Quick fact: Dieng shot 72.4 percent as the roll man in pick-and-roll sets, which ranked fourth in the nation (min. 30 plays).
June 25 Update: Dieng has slid in the draft thanks to concerns about his knees, but a number of teams in the 20s still are willing to take the risk. With the Wolves in serious talks to swap this pick for the Nets' MarShon Brooks, I could see the Nets grabbing another big to fill out their front line.
June 24 Update: This No. 26 ranking in our Secret NBA Draft Big Board would have been much higher if teams were rating the players just after the NCAA tournament. The big Louisville shot-blocker rates as high as 8 but as low as 3. Injury concerns regarding his ankle and his knee seem to be hurting his draft stock at the moment. His draft night range is 16 to 28.
June 18 Update: Injury concerns for Dieng (ankle and knee) have hurt his stock a bit, and he's slowly sliding into the 20s. Teams like him, but given his age, injuries matter. That shouldn't stop the Spurs from taking him here. They have big needs on the front line and Dieng is one of the more NBA-ready big men in the draft.
June 10 Update: Dieng started working out just last week after an ankle injury kept him sidelined for more than a month. He still hasn't worked out directly for a team -- just a big pro day a little more than a week ago in Santa Monica, Calif. The lack of workouts has taken its toll a bit on his draft stock, though strong performances over the next few weeks could boost it back up.
May 28 Update: An ankle injury kept Dieng out of the draft combine. His stock has been cooling of late as the excitement from Louisville's NCAA title wears off and teams begin to wonder whether Dieng can contribute enough on the offensive end to justify a high selection. There's expected to be a serious run on bigs in the teens, with a number of teams -- including the Thunder, Mavs, Jazz, Celtics, Hawks and Bulls -- looking for centers.
May 15 Update: Dieng won't do drills or athletic testing at the combine because of a sprained ankle. That shouldn't be a big issue for him. Big men typically struggle to look as good in the combine setting, especially big men without elite offensive skills. However, Dieng's measurements should be strong as well as his interviews.
May 8 Update (Projected No. 12, Thunder): Really, Oklahoma City is set at every position. However, Dieng is the one player left on the board who probably could help them now. Not only is he physically ready for the NBA, he's a good shot-blocker, a solid rebounder and an excellent passer out of the high post. With the Thunder a little weak up front, I think Dieng could be a nice addition to their frontcourt.
May 2 Update: Dieng continues to rise up our board. No one expects him to be a superstar in the NBA, but just about everyone sees him as a big man who can come in and contribute right away as a shot-blocker, rebounder and passer out of the high post. He won't score a lot, but for an established team at the end of the lottery -- think the Thunder, Sixers, Mavs or Jazz -- he could help better-position that team for the playoffs next season.
Apr 11 Update: Rick Pitino announced that Dieng will enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Dieng has been hanging around the Top 30 all year, but his performance in the NCAA title game against Michigan may have elevated his stock. The knock on Dieng is that he is a 23-year-old junior and doesn't have a lot of upside. However, he can probably play back-up minutes in the NBA right now. He is a good shot-blocker and rebounder, has proven to be a very good passer from the high post and has shown he can knock down a few shots when needed. He may not be a superstar, but he could end up having a long career in the NBA. He's a likely mid-to-late first-round pick.
Apr 2 Update: After going 9-for-9 from the field in the first two rounds of the tournament, Dieng came down to earth (just a little) in the second two rounds. He was an impressive 11-for-15 from the field, grabbed 20 rebounds and blocked 8 shots in wins against Oregon and Duke. Dieng is peaking at the right time. Size always rises as we get closer to the draft, and while he's often overshadowed by the flashier Russ Smith, Dieng has been a critical part of Louisville's success. If the Cardinals win a national championship, that luster could push him even higher on our Big Board by draft night.
Mar 26 Update: Dieng hasn't missed a shot yet in the tournament. He's 9-for-9 from the field and has proven to be very efficient for the Cardinals. No one drafting Dieng is thinking superstar, but there's a need for backup centers in the NBA and he looks like he'd pass the smell test.
Mar 13 Update: Dieng is finally having the season many of us thought he might coming into the season. He has become a solid scorer around the basket, is doing a much better job of rebounding the ball and has the potential to be an elite shot-blocker. He's coming off one of his best performances of the season, a 20-point, 11-rebound, 5-block performance against Notre Dame. If he plays that way in the tournament and gets Louisville to the Final Four, he's going to be a lock for the first round despite his age.
Nov 30 Update: Dieng was off to a pretty slow start before a wrist injury this week. Now he's set to miss four-to-six weeks and will have a screw placed in his scaphoid bone. Dieng got a lot of attention from scouts this summer and was supposed to be poised to have a breakout season. The slow start combined with the injury could knock him out of the first round discussion if he can't bounce back soon.
Oct 17 Update: I hesitate to put Dieng here at No. 19 in our Top 100. Every year scouts fall in love with long, athletic shot-blockers, and this year it appears Dieng is emerging as a favorite. He was solid as a sophomore, and over the summer the buzz really started to grow. He improved his body over the summer and was playing with some much-needed aggression in the adidas Nations camp.
Dieng's biggest issue is offensive polish and age. He can finish above the rim, but that's about the extent of his offensive game. His shooting percentage for someone of his size and athletic ability was pretty weak last season. In addition, he's old for his class (he turns 23 in January), and history has shown that older players who start dominating college don't duplicate the feat in the NBA.
Dec 4, 2011 Update: Dieng is having a nice season so far for Louisville. His ability to rebound, block shots and run the floor is very interesting. He needs to get stronger and put on more polish offensively, but scouts are eyeing him as a potential back-up big man in the pros.