The NBA’s 2018 Draft has just passed and a host of sights have graded each pick for each team. The Ohio State University’s Keita Bates-Diop picked 18th overall in the Second Round by the Minnesota Timberwolves may have landed the steal of the draft.
KBD finish up is time in Columbus with the Scarlet and Gray with some admirable accolades:
2018 Big Ten Player of the Year (media, coaches)
2018 First Team All-Big Ten (media, coaches)
2018 Associated Press Second Team All-America
2018 Sporting News Second Team All-America
2018 USBWA Second Team All-America
2018 NABC Second Team All-America
2018 Wooden Award All-America
2018 USBWA District V Player of the Year
2018 USBWA All-District V Team
2016 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (media, coaches)
As a redshirt Junior he finished off the 2017-18 season with a scoring average of 19.8 ppg. Along with a rebound average per game of 8.71 while averaging play of 33.1 minutes per game.
With the # 48 pick in the Draft, the Wolves made Keita Bates-Diop of The Ohio State University the newest member of their team. While many second-round picks are relatively anonymous, Bates-Diop is a player who many Wolves fans probably recognize from his outstanding play in the Big Ten this year.
Getting KBD in the middle of the pack in the second round JUST may be the actual steal of the draft – and Minnesota was the lucky family to welcome into their fold. KBD is a strong and athletic SF-PF who has the ability to score in multiple ways and defend multiple positions, KBD wasn’t a prospect who many expected to be on the board late in the second round. In fact, some mock drafts had the Wolves taking him with their first-round pick, and one, of which I found hopeful was the Knicks taking him in the second ahead of the Wolves.
“We were very surprised he was still there,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “We liked him a lot and he did a great job when he came in for his workout, and of course the season he had at Ohio State.”
KBD was the 2017-18 Big Ten Player of the Year, averaging 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, as I mentioned above in Columbus. With the Wolves, the 6’7 wing will likely line up as a backup to Andrew Wiggins at the three, but his 7’3 wingspan will open up the possibility for him to play as a small-ball four as well if he can bulk up some.
While KBD’s fall to No. 48 does present a head-scratcher – the question if there is something about his game that scared teams off, Thibodeau believes was that it was more a factor of this specific draft, and the number of wing prospects available in the late first round and early second.
“I think part of [the reason he fell]—and Scott felt this way all along about this draft, and where we were picking from 15, even into the second round—we felt there wasn’t a big difference among a lot of different players,” said Thibodeau. “So, when he was available, because he was in the discussion at 20 for a long time, sometimes it just works out that way and we felt we were very fortunate.”
The Wolves, wanted to get longer and more athletic this off-season, as well as picking up a few players who could shoot from range. KBD offers precisely that. He shot 35.9 percent from three-point range for the Buckeyes – nothing to brag loudly about, but, in truth, his shooting form is splendid, and the complete seed for the Buckeye’s offense out-put. The Timberwolves are hoping their hunches play out in the positive avenue they are relying on and that is with additional spacing and grooming, there’s a chance KBD could become a reliable shooter for the Timberwolves, and a legitimate star.
The most intriguing thing about KBD is his versatility. He’s tailor-made for the modern NBA, with the ability to switch onto multiple defenders and use his long arms to cut off passing lanes. He’s also a phenomenal wing rebounder. On offense, Bates-Diop can shoot, he’ll be a lob threat due to his length, and he’s developed a decent post-up game as well. There’s work to be done, no doubt, but KBD at the next level, but it will be a fun to watch ….
…And that is because of his work ethics, his strengths, and his desire to be in the best league in all the world. KBD deserves to be the NBA and the Timberwolves will soon realize their brilliance, while the teams that picked above them, will shake their heads and say “wow – what if?” including my Knicks.