The Lakers’ latest draft workout features another potential second round prospect in the likes of Khalifa Diop. The big man played for Gran Canaria in Spain last year and is seen as a potential draft-and-stash candidate in the second round, depending on which team selects him.
Here’s a look at the full list of players in the Lakers’ workout on Monday:
Javante McCoy – Boston University
Keve Aluma – Virginia Tech
Khalifa Diop – Gran Canaria
Jeenathan Williams – Buffalo
Malik Osborne – Florida State
Danko Brankovic – Cibona
The Lakers still do not have a second round pick as we enter draft week, but general manager Rob Pelinka has also publicly stated the team’s desire to trade for one to take part in Thursday’s action.
Diop is certainly an interesting and different prospect than the team has targeted so far when it comes to potential second rounders. At 20 years old, Diop played in 32 games for Gran Canaria last season across league play and EuroCup, a second-tier competition to the EuroLeague. In the EuroCup, Diop earned the Rising Star Trophy, which honors the best under-22 player in the competition last season.
Statistically, his numbers aren’t eye-popping. He averaged just 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 16 minutes per season. But a deeper dive into his game reveals a few aspects that make him an intriguing NBA prospect. Peachtree Hoops — our Atlanta Hawks SB Nation sister site — did a fantastic breakdown of Diop’s game with plenty of video, showing his strengths and weaknesses on both ends that is a must-read for those interested in him as a prospect.
The short of it is that Diop is a high-energy big man who excels as a screen-setter and roll-man with a lot of athleticism that lets him finish around the rim. But his youthfulness comes with its cons, typically in the form of over-eagerness defensively and a lack of finely tuned footwork on both ends of the court.
Even then, DraftExpress slots Diop 32nd among their Best Available rankings and have a pretty thorough breakdown of his game. Here’s a tidbit of that as well:
What NBA teams think about Diop will likely largely depend on what they think about the level where he plays. For some, a 20-year old starting and finishing games at the ACB and EuroCup levels and making his presence felt on both ends of the floor will be extremely noteworthy, while others will point to his unremarkable numbers (6 points, 3.6 rebounds in 15 minutes per game) and prefer to target college big men instead.
Diop has a high floor as a NBA backup, but there are many teams who simply prefer to have highly skilled players on the floor at every position and won’t be interested in a player in this mold, which could relegate him to the second round.
While it’s unknown how Darvin Ham will use big men in his new system, it would be pretty easy to imagine Diop filling a longterm role akin to that of JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard alongside Anthony Davis.
But by most accounts, that would be multiple years down the line as Diop could even potentially be a draft-and-stash option for some teams, depending on the state of their franchise and roster. For the Lakers, it could make sense to bring him to South Bay to develop in-house, given their track record of producing talent.
Regardless of the team’s plans, Diop is a different type of player than they’ve looked at so far in the draft and one that presents some intriguing possibilities if they were to select him.
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