NBA Vet Ike Diogu Peaking at the Right Time for Bakersfield Jam
The coveted phone call from an NBA team has yet to come for Ike Diogu, but he can at the very least say that he's done everything in his power to make it happen. The 30-year-old has reeled off nine straight double-doubles for the Bakersfield Jam, averaging 20.3 points and 14.1 rebounds per game over that stretch. He's now shooting 53% from the field on the year, plus 83% at the line and even 33% from three-point range.
"I feel like I'm an NBA player," Diogu said at the NBA D-League Showcase in January. "Rather than go overseas, I just decided to be here where I belong." A 6-8, 250-pound bruiser who also has a soft touch from outside, Diogu has already proven he belongs at the next level; his career per-36-minute NBA averages of 17.4 points -- on 51% shooting -- and 8.9 rebounds show that.
So it would seem he's simply been the victim of a numbers game, another aging big man phased out as the league gets younger, smaller and more athletic. "There really isn't any big man or power forward in the NBA that I can't compete with. It's just all about situation and opportunity," he said.
If he's done anything to change the minds of NBA personnel, it's come behind the arc. After attempting two threes in 225 career games, Diogu has made 25 on 76 attempts for the Jam (see his season shot chart below). At a time when stretch-the-floor bigs are all the rage, he feels he can fill that role, too: "I've always been able to do that," said Diogu, a career 47% shooter from 15-19 feet. "But for whatever reason, people tend to forget."