NBA Draft: Grading every first-round pick after rookie year

2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images /
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NBA Draft
Jaylin Williams (6) and forward Ousmane Dieng (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports) /

11. Oklahoma City Thunder – Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers

Every year there is a player or two who profiles as a complete project, but who rises up draft boards late in the process as teams begin to get excited about the possibilities their physical tools present. It’s the “Giannis Antetokounmpo Corollary” that one such player will rise up the board to land higher than expected, in hopes of finding the next Giannis. Aleksej Pokuševski in 2020, Bilal Coulabily in the 2023 Draft…and Ousmane Dieng in 2022.

It was the Oklahoma City Thunder who finally took the plunge at pick No. 11, trading their way into a pair of late-lottery picks to get in front of the Cleveland Cavaliers, rumored to want Dieng at 14. The long-limbed teenager who played in Australia’s NBL was always going to be a project, and that’s just what he was for the Thunder.

Dieng made it on the court for just 39 games, with a shot that was all over the place and some truly clueless moments defensively. That was the plan; Dieng’s upside, if it comes to rest, is still multiple seasons away. Even so, there weren’t enough flashes of the player the Thunder want him to become to give them top marks for this pick. We won’t ding them for Jalen Williams, as the order of their back-to-back picks don’t matter, but they would have been much better off with Walker Kessler, AJ Griffin or Tari Eason here.

Grade: C