Versatility has become a valuable characteristic in the modern NBA, and Keita Bates-Diop certainly fits that description. At 6’7” with a 7’3” wingspan, the Big Ten Player of the Year has the build to play and defend multiple positions. The Ohio State forward came back from an injury-shortened sophomore season to dominate for Ohio State as a junior.
- Per Game: 33.1 minutes, 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9, steals, 1.6 blocks
- Per 40: 23.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.0 blocks
- Advanced: Off Rtg 116.8, Def Rtg 94.6, PER 27.5, WS/48 .216, TRB% 15.6, BPM 9.4
- Shooting: FG 48.0%, 3PT 35.9%, FT 79.4%, TS 57.7%, eFG 54.4%
NBA Combine Results
- Age: 22
- Height: 6’7.25”
- Weight: 224 lbs
- Wingspan: 7’3.25”
- Max Vertical: 35 inches
As I’ve already highlighted, Keita’s length allowed him to be a tough matchup on both ends of the floor. His rebounding percentage of 15.6 would be among the league leaders for NBA forwards. His defensive rating and blocks also show he has the tools to be a good defender at the next level. Given the right development, he might be able to switch and defend 1-4 in the right matchups. His offensive game also has a good mix of post play with mid-range and outside shooting.
Bates-Diop earned his playing time and role, starting from 10 minutes a game as a freshman to 33 as a junior. He also battled his way back from an injury in 2016-2017 to play all 33 games the following year. This gives me the impression that he’s willing to put in the work where necessary. One other thing that stood out to me was his usage increasing to 29.4% (!) last year, while decreasing his TOV% from 14.8 to 9.4.
At 22 years old, his upside might be somewhat limited. For comparison’s sake, he’s only 6 months younger than Dante Exum and 4 months older than Donovan Mitchell. His ceiling might be a little lower than other comparable prospects. While he might have the length, he might not possess the speed required to stay in front of NBA guards and faster wings. His shuttle run and lane agility drills at the combine were towards the middle or back end of all participants. While previous Buckeye D’Angelo Russell may compare him to Kawhi Leonard, he has a long ways to go on the offensive end to be that type of 2-way player. He may be a jack of all trades type, but is does he have enough legitimate NBA-level skills to stick around?
Stress fracture. That’s not something you want to hear in a potential wing or (smaller) big man. He struggled with this during his 2016-2017 campaign and it made him miss most of the season. Fortunately he came back better his junior year, but those injury concerns may still be a red flag for NBA front offices.
Utah Jazz Fit
The Utah Jazz have assembled a defensive nightmare the past couple years, with Rudy Gobert in the middle and long, athletic wings in front of him. Dennis Lindsey saw that potential in Donovan Mitchell. He brought in Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh to further that identity in the summer. Bates-Diop would fit right in with that squad given his wingspan and elite defensive rebounding. His assist percentage is a little low at 10.5%, but if his 3 point shooting could continue in the NBA (36%, including 36% on 98 NBA-range 3’s per 94feetreport.com), he could fit right into Quin Snyder’s system as a smaller playmaking 4 and/or 3 and D wing.
His projections are all over the board right now, depending on what draft site you look at. Utah may be able to move into the early second round and get him there, or draft him at their original 21 spot. However, if Bates-Diop has some good workouts, he could easily work his way into the late teens instead. Either way, I’d be surprised if Keita Bates-Diop wasn’t somewhere on Dennis Lindsey’s radar.