The Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers are the cream of the crop when it comes to basketball. Each team has their own identity and does things a little different, but when it comes down to it they rely on a few key things: defensive versatility, shooting and playmaking ability. It’s why they were the final four left in the playoffs.
With the Warriors, Draymond Green is the epitome of a player that combines all three attributes.
Green has made a living by getting his teammates involved, guarding the opposing team’s best player and hitting open threes to keep the defense honest.
The Rockets used a strategy of bombing threes, getting out in the open court and using isolation basketball to expose the other team’s deepest weakness.
During their series against the Warriors, the Rockets took advantage when players like David West, Zaza Pachulia and Kevon Looney were on the floor by forcing these players to switch on to Chris Paul, James Harden and Eric Gordon, creating a huge mismatch.
In the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavs and Celtics played a chess match when it came to their lineups. The Cavs made the first adjustment, trading J.R. Smith for Tristan Thompson in the starting line up, which allowed for the Cavs to switch more on defense and allow players like Kevin Love be more of an offensive threat.
The Celtics countered by switching Marcus Morris for Aron Baynes in the starting lineup. Now while Baynes is not a player that hangs his hat (and he shouldn’t wear a hat with such cool hair *eye roll*) shooting and versatility, his teammate Al Horford does.
Horford is chameleon on both ends of the floor by being able to play inside out on offense and guard 3-5 on defense.
But now that we’re multiple graphs in, you’re probably asking: What does all this have to do with the Lakers possibly drafting Keita Bates-Diop?
Bates-Diop has an answer for that.
After his pre-draft workout with the Lakers, Bates-Diop spoke to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet and he talked about his strengths.
“A lot of different things. Versatility, great mindset, great attitude and all the little things” Bates-Diop said.
When Bresnahan asked him to describe his style of play Bates-Diop has a response that should have his future team excited.
“I’m really fluid, I can do a lot of things. I’m really long so I can guard multiple positions. I just like to think of myself as a versatile player,” Bates-Diop explained.
If Diop can prove that his actions match his words, he will be something out of an NBA executive’s dreams.
Bates-Diop is coming off a season at Ohio State in which he averaged 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists, and one NBA player he resembles is Draymond Green.
During his time with the Golden State Warriors, Green has served as a facilitator, defensive menace and decent shooter from behind the arc (shooting 32.7% from downtown for his career).
Bates-Diop projects to be a similar player to Green due to their size (both players measuring at 6-7), long limbs and style of play. Plus, like Green, Bates-Diop projects as an average shooter from three and could be a good secondary playmaker on offense with the ability to switch 1-5 on defense.
And while Bates-Diop will probably be off the board by the time the Lakers pick at 25, he seems like a prototype the Lakers made in a lab in El Segundo.
The Lakers like players that have played multiple years in college, as evidenced by their recent selection of Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, all of whom played three or more years in college. Bates-Diop played three years at Ohio State.
Due to his experience in college and being an older prospect, the former Buckeye will be able to contribute to his team right away, and with the Lakers’ young core on the rise, Bates-Diop could provide Luke Walton and his staff flexibility when it comes to lineups.
That added depth could be key, considering the Lakers lost Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball for long stretches last year.
Bates-Diop could be the injury insurance they need with how perfectly he fits with the other skill sets that are currently on the Lakers roster, and could potentially be another cog in Walton’s Warriors-like scheme.
So while most fans are looking ahead to the Lakers chasing their wildest free agency dreams, a move like drafting Bates-Diop could ensure they continue to have sustained success over the long haul.
All stats and measurements are from NBA.com, ESPN and SportsReference.com