NBA Future Watch: Ousmane Dieng Basketball Cards, Oklahoma City ThunderNBA Future Watch: Ousmane Dieng Basketball Cards, Oklahoma City ThunderOusmane Dieng is the most interesting paradox of the 2022 NBA Draft. Dieng has incredible size and wingspan on a team with more players sharing those characteristics than any other in the league. Frankly, OKC might have twice as many players with those attributes across their roster than any other squad. And yet, coming in at a legitimate 6’10” and as a tremendous playmaker, Dieng can physically loom over his peers at point guard like no player since Magic Johnson. It’s hard to think of another player in the league so prepared to both fit in and stand out in all the best aspects of both definitions.

Growing up as a second-generation basketball player in Lot-et-Garonne, France, Dieng competed on the youth level for the Villeneuve Basket Club and JSA Bordeaux programs. Exposure in the Euroleague Basketball Next Generation Tournament and FIBA U16 European Championship where he contributed to a silver medal helped to raise Dieng’s profile. A good stint (12.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.9 APG) with Centre Fédéral de Basketball in the Nationale Masculine 1 league paved the way for Dieng to become the first European player to join the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program. He suited up for the New Zealand Breakers.

And yet, Next Stars designation did nothing to guarantee playing time for Dieng, who placed eighth on the team in MPG. The Per-36 numbers are therefore most indicative, and they are promising: 15.7 PPG and 5.6 RPG. Scoring best in terms of points per dribble jump shot (74th percentile in the NBL), Dieng also advanced over the second half of the season in terms of overall production to 1.01 points per possession. That was way up from 0.57 in the first half of the season.

That staggering level of improvement made Dieng’s decision to enter the 2022 NBA Draft an easy one and he flew up the draft boards. After initially profiling outside the lottery, Dieng ended up in Oklahoma City with the 11th pick via the New York Knicks.

Offensive consistency will be targeted for improvement, as well as a decrease in turnovers and greater bulk on a slim frame, but Dieng’s upside is undeniable. Now playing professional basketball on his third continent, Dieng’s silky-smooth game could make him a big deal globally.

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Rick Morris

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