Height – 6’8.5″
Weight – 223 lbs
Age – 22
School – Ohio State
Wingspan – 7’3.5″
DraftExpress Rank – 18
Season Stats – 33.1 minutes, 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, 48% FG, 35.9% 3PT, 79.4% FT
Keita Bates-Diop has as much intrigue surrounding his game as any prospect in this draft. The 22-year old missed all but nine games of his junior season after requiring surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left leg. However, he made up for that lost year with a dominant senior season in which he earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors and led Ohio State to 25 wins.
Bates-Diop benefits largely from his length on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court. He is a three-level scorer that uses a tremendous feel for the game to be efficient in a ton of different roles. In today’s NBA, Bates-Diop’s versatility on both ends should lead to a long career if his skills translate.
High/low post- During his last year at Ohio State, Bates-Diop worked out of the high and low post spots pretty frequently. These looks accounted for 14% of his offense. Some of the things that made him so efficient while working in these areas is his variety of moves to get good shots, his catch radius, and his high basketball IQ.
In this first clip, we’ll see a bit of everything I mentioned. Bates-Diop had enough success this season in the high post that teams would start to overplay him, allowing them to get beat backdoor. Here, he sees that the defender is susceptible to a backdoor cut and uses a nice spin move to free himself, then immediately gives the passer a huge target to hit due to his lengthy wingspan.
Bates-Diop also has a nice face-up game, which will be important for him in the league as he’ll likely be a 3/4 tweener. He certainly isn’t the most explosive player but the polish on his moves and his length allow him to be able to get off a good look over solid defense from potential top-5 pick Jaren Jackson, Jr., here.
While Bates-Diop excelled in these situations last season, I would expect his role to change rather drastically at the next level. The more important aspects of his game will be touched on later. However, being the primary focus of the defense due to his 29.5% USG rate and still being able to create consistent positive plays for his team in these areas certainly doesn’t hurt.
Shooting – The one area that will need to translate for Bates-Diop to reach his potential as an NBA player will be his ability to space the floor as a shooter. When you look at his shooting splits from all four years there is some inconsistency that raises questions. However, Bates-Diop had his best shooting season last year when you factor in the volume of attempts he took from distance.
On the season, he was able to shoot 36 percent from three on 184 shots, which is by far the biggest sample size we have from him. One of the encouraging signs from these numbers is actually that in the 98 attempts that were from NBA range, his percentages held true.
Another thing to note is that 68.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities were considered “guarded” according to Synergy and with less attention on him at the next level, that rate should decrease drastically. He’ll likely never be considered a lights-out shooter but he is a player that defenses must respect from mid-range, where he shot 46 percent, and even to the three-point line.
An area that Bates-Diop can exploit to create open looks at the next level is something that you can see in the footage above. He runs to set the screen, sees that his defender is coming to hedge hard, and slips the screen for a wide open shot that he knocks down.
If he is able to continue being a factor from outside, with more open looks, he will likely be a player that defenses can’t leave alone on the perimeter.
Attacking closeouts – While KBD isn’t an overly skilled player in iso situations, he does thrive when the defense is having to close on him as a shooter. The 6-foot-7 wing has great balance in these situations as he can either rise up over defenders due to his length or explode to the hoop when the defense if off-balance.
Much of the success that he has in these situations is due to his ability to stretch the floor of course, but also he utilizes pump fakes well to create an extra second of hesitation by the defender. Bates-Diop won’t be someone who can consistently beat people off the dribble straight up but his pump fake does often create enough separation for him to get all the way to the rim, where he is incredibly efficient as a finisher. One of his most efficient shots was a running floater where he finished in the 81st percentile in the country on those attempts which is unique for a player of his size.
With nearly 24 percent of his shots coming at the rim he was able to convert on 72 percent of those in his senior season. His ability to finish at the rim in a number of ways will mitigate some of the deficiencies he has with regard to quickness.
Off-ball movement – One of the things that stuck out to me when watching Ohio State this year was how well KBD moved off the ball for someone who had such a ridiculously high usage rate.
He is a patient and smart cutter who uses those traits to set himself up for easy scoring opportunities. According to Synergy, Bates-Diop was rated as an “elite” cutter as he scored 1.4 points per possession (PPP) in 67 possessions.
Being able to beat defenders on cuts will only make him more valuable as an offensive player. This is an area that Bates-Diop should get more chances in at the next level and could possibly turn out to be an efficacious role man.
Additionally, Bates-Diop often does an impressive job of making himself open and easily accessible for passers. As you’ll see in this clip, he gives the guard a large target to hit for a layup, and when that is passed upon, he relocates to the corner giving the driving player a nice easy window to hit for the spot-up opportunity.
Contesting shots – Bates-Diop was often the Buckeyes best rim protector on the floor and was a general for a strong defensive ballclub all year long. He is extremely intelligent at contesting shots as he does not foul very often while still being able to block 1.6 shots per game, which was good for fifth in the Big Ten.
With a ridiculous 7’3.5″ wingspan to go along with the agility of a wing, he is often able to use those tools to impact the opposition.
While I’ve talked about some of the athleticism concerns that could hamper Bates-Diop, those were rarely ever an issue on the defensive side of the ball. He doesn’t get beat on the ball often and when he does he creates great angles to allow his length to make a play on the back end.
Switching ability – Switching on defense is becoming more and more prevalent in the NBA and in order to do so, you need defenders who can either keep up with multiple positions or who are long enough to recover when beat.
Bates-Diop will have a harder time with the former of those two but it will likely never be a glaring concern. On the flip side, his ability to recover with his length when he is beat makes him a prime candidate to be able to switch multiple positions defensively.
At the NBA level, Bates-Diop will likely be able to cover at least three positions for the full shot clock, and possibly some shooting guards at times. But when he is switched onto smaller, quicker guards later in the shot clock he has the potential to be effective in those situations as well.
Defensive rebounding – On the year, Bates-Diop averaged 7.2 defensive rebounds per game, good for second in the Big Ten. This again has to do with his long arms and utilization of his high basketball IQ in order to end the defensive possession by securing the board. Being able to not only contest and block shots at the rate that he does but to also secure rebounds after doing so is an area that Bates-Diop thrives, much like most of the defensive side of the ball.
Fit with Lakers
Bates-Diop is an intriguing option for the Lakers in the first round. He offers strengths in areas that the Lakers are lacking and also has the ability to bolster some of the aspects of the game which they excel at.
On the offensive side of the ball, he is someone that could provide spacing in small ball lineups alongside Julius Randle (PAY THAT MAN.) or Kyle Kuzma, or could be an impactful backup to someone like Brandon Ingram on the wing. The areas that he was deployed at Ohio State didn’t always capitalize on his talent off the ball or as a cutter and that is a spot where he could be very useful for the Lakers. His cutting and length should also make him an effective target on lobs and hit-aheads for Lonzo Ball and company.
Defensively is where Bates-Diop will likely have the biggest impact in his first year. He’s an exceptional on-ball defender that contests shots from all areas on the floor and can grab and go off the glass. With the Lakers loving to run and push off misses and turnovers, Bates-Diop will find success in Walton’s gameplan. The ability to switch multiple positions would benefit both the Lakers and KBD as they will now have several players who can guard different positions on the floor. A lineup like Ball-Hart-Ingram-KBD-Randle that could switch as effortlessly.
In a scenario where Bates-Diop lands in Los Angeles, the Lakers will have a versatile, smart, smooth player on both sides of the ball to add to their already impressive young core.
All stats provided by sports-reference.com, hoop-math.com, and Synergy Sports.
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