As basketball fans everywhere watched the New York Knicks get taken down by the Indiana Pacers 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it became apparent that Indiana had a sizable advantage down low. The Knicks were out-rebounded in five out of the six games in the series, and were out-rebounded by double digits in four of them, including by 18 in Game 4.
They need a guy who can help former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler grab rebounds in traffic and bang around with the likes of Indiana’s Roy Hibbert, who dominated the Knicks’ front-court all series in the paint.
This man could be Louisville‘s Gorgui Dieng.
The Knicks are looking into drafting a big man in the upcoming NBA draft in order to upgrade their undersized and undermanned frontcourt. Dieng could possibly be the best center available in the late-first round. The Knicks have the No. 24 pick.
The 6-foot-11, 230 pound center anchored Louisville’s defense, ranked No. 1 in the country, during his senior year en route to a national championship victory over Michigan. He is an excellent shot-blocker (2.5 per game), and is a phenomenal athlete. His length and agility then allow him to quickly rotate down and protect the rim on screen-and-rolls. Dieng is also a tenacious rebounder (9.4 boards per game).
His tremendous defensive qualities and his success on the biggest stages in college basketball should make him appealing to Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, a defensive-minded coach, who prefers to play experienced players.
Offensively, he excels in pick-and-roll situations. Like Chandler, he shows good timing while catching the ball off the roll and finishes strong at the basket. His post-up game, however, needs a bit of work, which is why he wasn’t the go-to guy in Louisville’s offense (9.8 points per game).
The Knicks could also go guard with their first round pick, as they need to replace the recently retired Jason Kidd. They had Murray State‘s Isaiah Canaan in for a workout earlier in the week and plan to work out Illinois‘ Brandon Paul as well this week.
While the Knicks do need another guard to replace Kidd and possibly Pablo Prigioni should he opt to leave via free agency, their playoff performance defensively and on the glass clearly indicated that they need a presence inside. Should he be available, Dieng would be a perfect fit to fill those needs.