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2016 Phoenix Suns Prospect Profile: Cheick Diallo's defensive upside is a great fit for the Suns

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports


More than almost any other prospect in this draft, that's what teams are looking at with Cheick Diallo.

A highly coveted recruit out of high school with an incredibly unique skill set, Diallo picked Kansas University, but was held out of play until December because of a suspension from the NCAA on his grade status.

There's a reason he was hyped up as fans eagerly awaited his debut.

But, as a lot of freshman have learned playing for Bill Self in Lawrence, he didn't play much.

Diallo averaged only 7.5 minutes per game and had a total of 202. Playing for possibly the deepest and best team in college basketball didn't help matters, but Diallo was mostly used in garbage time and that gave NBA scouts very little to work with in evaluating him.

If Diallo would have received the right amount of minutes at KU and done well with them, he would without a doubt be a lottery pick right now like he was evaluated as in October.

That's not what happened this past season, however, and the mystery surrounding him has him firmly on the first round bubble. (Like, he's actually a mystery because he didn't play that much. Emmanuel Mudiay got labeled as the "mystery man" last year because he played in China, but everyone had the tape and was able to see him a ton in a competitive setting. That's not Diallo.)

Is he a fit for Phoenix? You be the judge.


The first place to start with Diallo is he's an incredibly raw prospect.

For what he brings on defense, he doesn't show a terrific understanding of his own movement and his team's movement as well.

Switching on ball screens is HUGE for his value and he while he's not fully locked in there either, he shows huge potential.

On offense, there's, uhh, not much there.

You know that Travolta gif where he's looking around and can't find anything? That's Diallo's offensive game. The most comfortable he looks with individual offense is jumpers from the post, but his height presents a problem for how easily he can get that shot off at the next level.

His defensive potential makes him more ideal as a hybrid SF/PF/C, but his offense is only going to limit him to center for quite a while.

The good news is that Diallo is fluid enough with the ball and his own motion to finish on rim runs in either transition or the half court. Other than that? Your guess is as good as mine.

Athletic Profile

Diallo is a strange guy to profile for so many reasons, and most of it comes from his athletic profile.

He was 6'9" at the combine and jumped up a lot of draft boards because of his freakish 7'4.5" wingspan. If you're hesitant about his height as a center, look at what Bismack Biyombo is doing right now with a slightly larger build.

That's long enough for him to still make a significant impact on the glass and around the rim on both ends.

That's what should keep him in the first round, but it is crucial to realize that he is no Marquese Chriss when it comes to athleticism.

He's not very bouncy, and that limits him from being in the "athletic freak" category. There's enough there for him to get up and down the court quicker than bigs and compete with them on the glass though.

Nearly every prospect needs to add weight and it's massive for Diallo as a center. There's no room to spare when it comes to his position. He needs to get stronger.


Another pivotal aspect of evaluating Diallo is to understand his motor.

He works his tail off on the glass, creating deflections, making up for bad positioning and is always looking to run on the break.

Defensive potential

His motor directly translates to his shot blocking, where he shows very good instincts and has the work rate to make up for not having the best positioning.

He is right on the cusp of being quick enough laterally to switch onto guards comfortably, which is more than you could ask for when it comes to most of today's centers.

Once again, his motor is going to benefit him tremendously off the ball, where he can wreak havoc on rotations and not be a liability in too many cross-switching situations.

Defending in the post will not be ideal for him until he gets stronger, but once he is, his length is going to severely limit his opposition down low. His wingspan is that type of athletic trait that's going to take opponents a couple of quarters to realize how high on the scale it truly is.

Conclusion and fit for the Suns

Diallo's fit at No. 28 or 34 is obvious. He's the type of prospect that could potentially spend a season or two in Prescott Valley learning basketball and growing as a player. Even with two centers, his skill set is rare enough to help a roster with Alex Len and Tyson Chandler on it.

If there's a clip to sum him up right now, it's this.

He works hard with his motor, uses his ridiculous length to get to the ball over two guys and then throws the ball into the backcourt.

In the long-term, Diallo could give Phoenix an incredibly versatile defensive big off the bench who will give them rebounding, defense and energy.

If the Suns are up at 28 and Diallo is on the board, it's hard to see why they wouldn't pick him if they are a fan of his game. There's no one really like him in the draft except Bender, who, as it turns out, Phoenix could wind up taking at 4. If they talk to Diallo's people and he doesn't mind spending time in Prescott Valley, I love the pick. Stay tuned.

Huge shoutout to my guy Tobias from Go-to-guys. I randomly came across his clips late last year and have been using them ever since with no real way to credit him. He reached out and thanked me for using the videos, so the least I could do is give him a huge plug. Here's his twitter, the site is hyperlinked up there and of course, the clips above take you to his youtube channel, where he has clips of most of the prospects in this year's draft.

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