Keita Bates-Diop – Ohio State
CPP Big Board Ranking: #30 Overall (#15 SG/#8 SF)
Weight: 224 lbs
Age/Birthday: 22 (1/23/96)
Hometown: Normal, Illinois
High School: University H.S.
(Brett Siegel – 6/17/18)
After playing just 9 games during the 2016-17 season due to a stress fracture in his lower left leg, there were a lot of questions circling Keita Bates-Diop because he seemed to be an injury plagued talent who may not be the same player after this type of injury. After being granted a medical redshirt and coming into his redshirt junior season this past year, Keita Bates-Diop was one of Coach Chris Holtmann’s main guys to turn to and put all his faith in to lead this Buckeyes team. Not only did he bounce back in a significant way post-injury, but Keita Bates-Diop surfaced as one of the best upperclassmen in the country. He led Ohio State to the school’s first 25-win season since the 2013-14 season with a 25-9 record, 15-3 Big Ten record (the most conference wins since the 2010-11 season with 16), and scored in double-digit figures in all but two games this season. He recorded 15 games with 20+ points and recorded 13 double-doubles this season, tied for 39th in the nation. On top of all of this, Keita Bates-Diop was named Big Ten Player of the Year and deservedly so. The way Keita Bates-Diop was able to bounce back from his injury and the adversity he faced, he has solidified himself as a very reliable basketball player who has been classified at times as “positionless”. Bates-Diop is not a young talent that has a lot of room to grow at 22 years old, but will bring a veteran presence to whatever team he is drafted by and will always be a reliable player.
Although a lot of people thought his injury two seasons ago would be devastating to his measurements and explosiveness, Bates-Diop silenced all the doubters quickly this past season and continued to impress at the NBA Combine. His length and measurables are outstanding for a player initially classified as a wing-player, measuring a standing reach of 8’10.5” and a wingspan of 7’3.25”, one of the longest wingspans amongst wing players invited to this year’s combine. His length makes him a very dangerous defender and the stats can back it up. Keita Bates-Diop averaged 8.7 rebounds per game this past season in Columbus, just under a steal per game, and an impressive 1.6 blocks per game. His long frame and explosive jump makes classifies him as likely the best shot-blocking wing players in the draft and one of the more intriguing players. By showing his ability to defend multiple positions and at multiple spots on the court in college, Keita Bates-Diop will fit in immediately with how the NBA is changing. The game is transition more and favoring players who can be named “positionless,” making Keita Bates-Diop just the type of player teams are looking for. Players like Draymond Green, P.J. Tucker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are three big name, “positionless” players in today’s NBA and have all been major contributors to their teams. Bates-Diop can have the same type of impact as a “positionless” player for a team in his first few seasons as a result of his defensive abilities and amazing defending of anyone. He is also a very physical player with a high basketball intelligence. Being a player who spent four years at the college level, Keita Bates-Diop sees the game differently than some of these “one-and-done” players, and has a better feel for the game because he has been exposed to it a lot longer and has seen things some of these younger guys have not. He knows how to use his body to his advantage against younger defenders and can make his defenders passive. He is not only a big body that can back-down defenders and finish in the post, but he has a decent first step, can dribble, finish at the rim, free-throw line, or from beyond the arc, so he has a lot of different ways to beat you. His ability to create space with and without the ball is unique for a player of his size and his understanding for the game is far more developed coming into the NBA than others in this year’s draft class.
If there is one game that can showcase Keita Bates-Diop’s complete offensive arsenal, I would definitely say his NCAA Tournament game against Gonzaga was that game. He showed his ability to get to the free-throw line, finish in traffic, knock down tough threes, find his open teammates, but also showed NBA scouts that he has a mid-range game. Bates-Diop shot 55% of 2-point shots this season and is a very undervalued mid-range shooter. Going back to the game against Gonzaga, Bates-Diop shot 10-21 and 4-9 from beyond the arc. There were not many options outside of him for the Buckeyes in this game and in the big moment, he showed up and performed, but ultimately losing to Gonzaga 84-90 after scoring 28. His full highlights of that NCAA Tournament game can be found below from our friends over at NCAA March Madness:
At Ohio State, Keita Bates-Diop was treated as the “star” of the team and all the team’s expectations were put on his shoulders. Coming into the NBA though, Bates-Diop will not be looked at more than a 4th or 5th best scoring option for his team, so it is unknown how he will adjust to his new role. He will be a bench player early on in his career and will be a guy that will be looked to deliver big minutes for a team that looks to rest their starters or star player for some time. The Buckeyes used Bates-Diop a lot and the offense basically revolved around him, so in the NBA, where the game will not revolve around him and his abilities, it should be interesting to see how Bates-Diop takes a step back, if he is able to, and adjust to the game not being about him. Another concern for Keita Bates-Diop as he joins the NBA is, as mentioned before, his age. Bates-Diop comes into the league at 22 years old and does not have much of a ceiling left. What teams see of him now is likely what they will get for the long run and he is pretty much done developing at his age. Nothing taking away from his skillset and being a great player, but some teams tend to stray away from older collegiate guys because there is more potential upside in younger prospects. To me, this is not much of a concern for Keita Bates-Diop, but it is something to note. The last thing Bates-Diop must improve upon is his ball handling, especially since the talent he faced in the Big Ten will not be near what he will face his first few seasons in the NBA. The players he will be going up against for years to come are much more mature defenders than what he is used to going up against and his first-step dribble could be less-effective. By focusing on ball handling and playmaking abilities as a facilitator, Keita Bates-Diop can gain a leg up on his competition and continue being a great two-way option like he was at Ohio State.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Trey Lyles
Although a taller and heavier built player, Trey Lyles is very similar player to Keita Bates-Diop in the way that both players approach the offensive end of the court and the way they can both play and defend multiple positions. In college, Lyles was not much of a shooter, as he was seen as more of a threat to get in the paint and be an aggressive rebounder, but in the NBA, Lyles has found a nice niche as a shooter, especially with the Denver Nuggets. Last season, Lyles shot a career high 49% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. He also brought in about 5 rebounds per game. Keita Bates-Diop comes out of college more developed and polished than Lyles did, but has a very similar style game-play to what Lyles has now. What took Lyles 3 seasons in the NBA to do; Keita Bates-Diop shows up already having it.
In this year’s draft, do not be surprised if Bates-Diop slips to the early-second round range, much like veteran college talents Frank Mason III and Jordan Bell did last season. There is a lot of young underclassman and international talent that may wind up rounding out the end of the first round, pushing Keita Bates-Diop out of the first-round. To me, Keita Bates-Diop is a guy who has the talent be a pick between 25-30, but I see a playoff caliber team buying a pick in the second-round of this year’s draft to get him. Three teams to watch out for that are in play for Keita Bates-Diop are the Utah Jazz, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Denver Nuggets. Could Bates-Diop replace the guy he resembles the most right now in Denver, or could he be a great secondary option for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum up in Portland? Only time will tell, but one thing we do know is that Keita Bates-Diop is a fighter and will be a guy a lot of teams regret overlooking.
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