2013 NBA Draft: With Uncertainty Down Low, Utah Jazz Could Draft Gorgui Dieng

By Ryan Heckman


Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are facing uncertainty heading towards the 2013 NBA Draft and free agency period. Their two top big men, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, could be set to become free agents on July 1st, and it is unclear what the Jazz will do in this situation in regards to bringing either of them back. Both will absolutely receive attention from other teams, which may make it tough on Utah in hopes of retaining them.

With the 21st overall pick in the first round, the Jazz will more than likely have a tough decision at hand. With such an array of different players and not many superstar names coming out of college, Utah has their work cut out for them at that spot. There will likely be a few surprise picks, leaving a couple guys on the board that Utah may not have expected to be there.

The question is, do they address their front court needs depending on what happens to Jefferson and Millsap? I wouldn’t doubt that possibility. The fact that both guys could wind up on another team doesn’t bode well for Utah going forward, and they will need to solidify one of those spots via the draft – especially if they are left without either one.

One prospect that could be a viable pick for the Jazz at 21 is Lousville center Gorgui Dieng. Last season for the Cardinals, Dieng put up 9.8 points, 9.4 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and an impressive 2.5 blocks per game.

The 6’11” big man has a wingspan of nearly 7’4” and possesses a long, prototypical body for a center. Dieng would offer the Jazz an instant force on the inside, defensively. He is quick and agile for a guy his size and can rebound the ball at a high level – even on his weak side.

Per 40 minutes, Dieng blocked over three shots per game which would translate very nicely in the NBA. He has learned to play defense without fouling as much as he had in the past, something scouts really seem to like.

Offensively, his game remains for the most part on the inside. He finished at a very impressive rate of 66 percent around the basket, creating a dependable scoring option in the paint for Rick Pitino’s squad last year. He is also stronger than most at his size, giving him the ability to finish around the rim even while in traffic.

Dieng must be on Utah’s radar heading into the next couple of weeks, because he very well could be there at 21. If he’s not, then the game begins again and they have to have a backup plan. Another interesting option on the complete opposite end of the lineup for the Jazz could be Miami point guard Shane Larkin. He is projected in most mock drafts to go around pick number 21, give or take a couple spots.

Either Larkin or Dieng would be great additions to the Jazz, but Dieng might be the favorable pick in this case. We’ll find out come draft day just who is there at 21 and if the Jazz don’t feel quite right about their two big men entering July, Dieng could wind up playing in Salt Lake City this coming season.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA writer for RantSports.com also contributing to the NFL. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google

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