The EuroCup’s Rising Star Award winner, Khalifa Diop broke out as a 20 year old playing in the Spanish ACB. On the year, Diop averaged 6.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.7 BPG, and 1.3 TOPG on shooting splits of 62/0/55. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Khalifa Diop
Wingspan/ standing reach: N/A
Hand size: N/A
Pre-Draft team: Gran Canaria
Tools: Length, finishing, athleticism, P&R roll man
- Excellent finisher at the rim, especially off of lobs and cuts
- Capable finishing above the rim both from a standstill and on drives
- Long arms
- Good shot blocker
- Plus athlete
- Good rebounder on both ends
- Comfortable shooting 10 foot jumpers
- Strength allows him to win 50/50 balls
- Can finish with both hands at the rim
- Runs the floor well; should thrive in transition
- Needs to get better at defending 1-on-1 in space, especially on jump shots
- Jump shot is far from NBA ready
- Poor free throw percentage
- Limited playmaker; had a 1:2 assist:turnover ratio
- Limited skill as a ball-handler
- Can look lost at times; needs to play under more control
- Bad hands
- Often has trouble landing screens
- Struggles guarding pick & rolls
Khalifa Diop will need to play a niche role to thrive in the NBA as a P&R roll man offensively, and on defense he will likely need to be paired with another big.
Offensively, Diop has potential to shoot mid range jumpers out of flashes and pick & pops. While the form is inconsistent and his poor free throw percentage indicates poor touch, there is a growth area in the NBA for him as a shooter, since the league is so focused on shooting and stretching the floor. Diop stretching the floor would allow for his rolls towards the basket thrive at a high level, which plays to his strengths.
Diop also thrives in transition, running the floor well and always serving as an intimidating scoring threat in 2-on-1 scoring opportunities. When Diop is not scoring in the half-court at the rim off of cuts, P&R sets, or offensive rebounds he is quite limited. He can look lost at times, not sure where to go next, and misses screens often. In order to maximize his P&R finishing, he will also need to improve his hands and catching tough passes.
Defensively, Diop has the tools to hold his own as a long athlete, but he needs to get better at using those tools situationally in-game. Diop frequently gets lost in pick & rolls, and struggles to defend guards in space, as well as shooters with space-creation ability. Diop can guard drives against forwards well, which is something he will have to become great at, while also knowing how to defend the rim while camping out near the paint. Because of this, Diop likely will need to be paired with another big man (a la Orlando) to preserve Diop’s perimeter weaknesses. When teams play a two-big lineup, this prevents the liability of a perimeter defender big to be switched onto guards as often.
Overall, Diop is still raw, and needs to refine his defensive skills to stick in the NBA. Diop can be stashed for a couple more years, but could be a finisher for a team lacking big men. He will need to go to a team that has a good core of big men and an already strong defensive system established.
Similar to: Willie Reed
Projected draft range: 2nd round/undrafted
Expected role: Athletic P&R roll man with rim protection on defense.
Unplayable if: Defense in space against shooters plays him off the floor, combined with a weak feel for the game and lack of shooting.
Exceeds expectations if: Jump shooting evolves, and his ability to thrive at the rim on both ends makes him a strong backup big.