With the 43rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft the Clippers have selected Moussa Diabate from Michigan. 20 years old, standing 6’10 and weighing around 215 pounds, Moussa was a 5 star high school recruit who played just a single season at Michigan before entering the draft.
In that lone year, he averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.9 blocks per game in 24.9 minutes with a 56.5 True Shooting. Not bad numbers for a young guy in a major conference, but not great either.
Moussa Diabate was maybe a tad bit of a reach at 43 for the Clippers in the draft, with most projections having him going in the 50s or undrafted entirely. He was 60th on Sam Vecenie’s top 100 board and not in the top 60 on ESPN’s. Still, part of the appeal for the Clippers is that Moussa will almost certainly be ok with a two-way deal, and that’s about the only spot the Clippers will probably have. There were a few players who were higher on my board, but Moussa is a good swing.
The reason Moussa should be fine with a two-way deal is that he’s a project. His tools are legit. He has size, wingspan, and excellent athleticism – he was nearly always the best athlete on the court in the Big 10, one of the top conferences in the NCAA. He’s a quick twitch guy when guarding the perimeter, has a second jump when protecting the rim, and is lightning fast running down the court in transition.
All of that sounds great, but there are some caveats. Namely, Moussa is very raw. He didn’t start playing basketball until age 12, which is late compared to most American prospects (Diabate grew up in France), and he still reads the game fairly slowly. His skills on offense are also nascent – there are flashes of a jumper and playmaking, but he’s mostly just a finisher around the rim now. His hands can also be shaky in traffic, which isn’t unusual for young big men, but is something that he will need to work on.
The vision for Moussa at the NBA level is clear. A versatile defender who can both do traditional big man rim protection as well as switch-everything and hedge-and-recover type schemes while providing a lob threat on the other end. He plays extremely hard and with a lot of energy, and should be a positive rebounder fairly quickly. The question is whether he can make the necessary reads at the speed of an NBA game, and how much he can contribute on offense besides lob dunks and putbacks.
Welcome to the Clippers, Moussa Diabate!