Keeping with the international scene for another profile, today we’ll be taking a look at Ousmane Dieng. A 6 foot 10 inches tall wing from France who played his 2021-22 season for the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL in Australia and New Zealand. If you recognize that team name it could be because prospects like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton played there, and it is becoming a more popular route among prospects to make their way to the NBA Draft.
Ousmane Dieng is just the latest of the NBL prospects, and is certainly a fun watch. He is one of the youngest players in this draft class, being just 19 years old. He turned 19 on May 21st and definitely has the argument of youth on his side. Dieng showed a lot of potential for the Breakers in the second half of the season after he started the season looking like he would be an afterthought for NBA teams. It was probably the biggest in season turnaround of any prospect in this draft class. It was like seeing two different players.
He played with much more confidence in his game. His shot went in more, and he started taking people off the dribble. Isolations and good passes were regular for him. He started showing people why he was regarded highly before signing to NBL. Due to his spectacular second half of the season, he has risen up boards to near lottery conversations. People always fall during the draft though, so let’s see if he’s a good option for Denver to go with if they have the opportunity to draft the Frenchman.
Ousmane Dieng, Wing, New Zealand Breakers
Wingspan: 7’0” (didn’t measure at the combine, this is what has been reported though)
Weight: 216 lbs
Age: 19 (5/21/2003)
Season Per Game Statistics
2021-22 Season Per Game Stats for Ousmane Dieng
|2021-22||New Zealand Breakers||NBL Australia||23||20.3||3.5||8.7||0.398||1.1||4.2||0.271||2.3||4.6||0.514||0.8||1.2||0.667||0.5||2.7||3.2||1.1||0.6||0.3||1.4||1.5||8.9|
While on paper, these stats may look bad — they don’t paint the full picture. If we break up the season into two 11 game segments (excluding his last game in which he only played 11 minutes) the stats show a night and day difference. In his first 11 games with the Breakers he only put up 4 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game, 0.9 assists per game, and 0.3 steals and blocks per game. He did this on just 24.6% from the field and 15.4% from 3. It was hard to watch and many wrote him off as a prospect. For the second half of the season, he had a turnaround that surprised everyone though. In the last 11 games of his season he increased his averages to 14.2 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, 1.4 assists per game, and 1.6 steals and blocks per game. All while shooting 48.4% from the field and 35.7% from 3.
His confidence increased drastically and he was a far more complete player in the second half of the season. That sort of in season progression is very impressive and shows that he can make strides in the right direction. If the first half of the season didn’t happen he would likely be in top 10 conversations for this draft class. He was getting more on-ball reps on offense, showing his ability to create shots for himself and others. Defensively he was far more sound too.
Pick and Roll Play
Ousmane Dieng was most comfortable on offense when playing in the pick and roll as the ball handler. His feel for the game is evident when handling the ball in the pick and roll. He loves to go to his floater off of drives. He uses ball screens to get open well. He’s able to navigate all 3 levels in the pick and roll and make advanced reads; skip passes and dump off passes are regularly seen when watching him.
He knows how to get to his spots as well. As mentioned before, he really loves to go to a floater in the in-between area. It’s a move that he is able to knock down with regularity that is impressive. He has a knack for scoring off of ball screens in general, and while he can certainly improve on his scoring — this is where he is best utilized right now. His assist numbers don’t do his passing justice either. His handle is good for his size and he has good craft when it comes to handling. He doesn’t have the ball on a string by any means, but he loves to use hesitations and hang dribbles to free up wiggle room for himself. With his height that is more than enough for him to get a shot off or finish at the rim.
In this possession Ousmane Deing recieves a dribble hand off and then a rescreen. He’s able to use this to get his defender on his hip. By the time the defender recovers it’s too little too late as Ousmane Dieng is already in his shooting motion for his floater. With Dieng’s soft touch the floater goes in with no issues.
Ousmane Dieng is the ball handler here and gets blitzed in a pick and roll. He fakes a pass up high to get the roll man’s defender to jump and delivers a pass to his now open roll man. From there it’s an easy bucket for the big with nothing but a small guard in between him and the basket.
In the final example I’ll use we see Ousmane setting up a pick and roll. He directs the screener on where to screen and then drives. He uses the screen to free up a lane and takes the big to the hoop. He uses good change of pace to absorb the contact and finishes the and-1.
Ousmane Dieng is fairly raw right now, but he has skill and the measurables to do a lot with those physical tools. He has shown flashes of scoring from all 3 levels, but he’s best at finishing around the rim. Dieng is able to use his length to finish over and through guys, in addition he has good footwork on drives. He’s a fairly complete finisher, and if you add in his floater game he has a good tool box to score within the arc.
From beyond the arc it’s a bit more iffy. He scored a good amount of his 3 pointers in the second half of the season, but was a fairly streaky shooter throughout the season. His shooting mechanics could also use some adjustments. The base of his jump shot is mostly fine, but his arms are sort of a different story. They’re not the worst mechanics I’ve seen, but he thumbs the ball with his guide hand and the wind up looks pretty awkward. He’s not a complete scorer right now, but with time he should be a good scorer from all areas of the court.
Here he gets a switch onto a big. He uses a hang dribble to make the big reach on him, and takes the opportunity to drive on him. He’s not the burstiest player but gets a good driving angle and scores a nice baby hook utilizing his length to get the shot off.
In a late shot clock situation Ousmane Dieng gets a pass. He sets up using a between the legs dribble and loosely does a in and out dribble. After that he side steps, creating separation from his defender. Then he lets a shot fly and knocks it down.
In this possession Ousmane Dieng’s craft is on display. He fakes like he is going to initiate a dribble hand off, but while there’s a hole in the defense he slithers into the lane and gathers early but covers ground with his long strides and finishes through contact to convert an and-1.
One thing that separated Ousmane Dieng from other tall ball handlers is that he is actually pretty decent defensively, and has a high ceiling on that end. He has good lateral movement skills and his length allows him to stay in front of multiple positions. He also has indicators that he will get more steals and blocks than he did at the next level. He has very quick hands and tries to get steals pretty regularly.
He can work on his footwork defensively, though. He sometimes trips over himself, and while it’s not a regularity it does happen. He can in general do with being a more consistent defender. There are a lot of good things to say about his defense, but there are some lapses.
This clip shows Ousmane’s ability to play in passing lanes and his good movement skills. He gets a pass and runs the floor ending in a dunk. He is a disruptive defender and runs in transition well.
In this clip you can see Ousmane has good lateral movement and keeps with perimeter players well, but it also shows that he can sometimes be a step behind with regards to his processing. He nearly recovers well, but gets dunked on instead.
While Ousmane Dieng showed some decent potential from both beyond the arc and midrange, he could use some improvement on his jump shot. He was a streaky shooter and it was either going in a lot or not at all. I touched on the shooting mechanics earlier, and what I said then can apply here. He is someone with potential to be a good shooter, but he can use some attention to this aspect of his game.
Strength and Muscle
Ousmane Dieng’s frame is pretty slight and lean right now. This leads to issues for him on both ends of the floor. He can get bumped off of his spots on defense and stronger players can utilize that advantage against him to get easier looks. He can also get bumped off his driving lanes by sturdier defenders. It’s not an issue that I’m too concerned about though, because he will likely be able to get weight on easily in NBA training rooms.
Projected Draft Range: Mid first round
Ousmane Dieng is someone who has a lot of potential, and one of the higher ceilings in this NBA draft class. He could help right away with his defense and pick and roll play. However, he is likely a couple years away from being a positive NBA player and is fairly raw at this point in time. Being one of the youngest players in this draft class that is fine. Given his youth he will draw attention from a lot of teams.
As for his fit in Denver, it really depends on if the Nuggets want to take the time to develop him and if they are comfortable in investing into his development. The best way for him to develop is to give him reps, and I just don’t know if the Nuggets are the place for him to do that. He’s an intriguing player, but Denver is likely to look for someone who can contribute right away at a higher level.