With pick No. 48 in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Wolves made Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State the newest member of their squad. While many second-round picks are relatively anonymous, Bates-Diop is a player who many Wolves fans probably recognize from his outstanding play in the Big Ten this year.
Getting Bates-Diop midway through the second round could be a major steal for the Wolves. A long, athletic wing who can score in multiple ways and defend multiple positions, Bates-Diop was not a prospect who many expected to be on the board late in the second round. In fact, some mock drafts had the Wolves taking him with their first-round pick.
“We were very surprised he was still there,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “We liked him a lot and he did a great job when he came in for his workout, and of course the season he had at Ohio State.”
Bates-Diop was the 2017-18 Big Ten Player of the Year, averaging 19.8 points and 8.7 points per game with the Buckeyes. With the Wolves, the 6’7 wing will likely line up as a backup to Andrew Wiggins at the three, but his 7’3 wingspan will open up the possibility for him to play as a small-ball four as well if he can bulk up a little.
While Bates-Diop’s fall to No. 48 does beg the question if there is something about his game that scared teams off, Thibodeau believes that it was more a factor of this specific draft, and the number of wing prospects available in the late first round and early second.
“I think part of [the reason he fell]—and Scott felt this way all along about this draft, and where we were picking from 15, even into the second round—we felt there wasn’t a big difference amongst a lot of different players,” said Thibodeau. “So when he was available, because he was in the discussion at 20 for a long time, sometimes it just works out that way and we felt we were very fortunate.”
The Wolves, wanted to get longer and more athletic this offseason, as well as picking up a few players who could shoot from range. Bates-Diop fits perfectly into that vision. He shot 35.9 percent from three-point range in college—not an elite number, but his shooting form was good, and he was the focus of Ohio State’s offense. With additional spacing, there’s a chance he could become a really reliable shooter for the Timberwolves.
The most intriguing thing about Bates-Diop is his versatility. He’s tailor-made for the modern NBA, with the ability to switch onto multiple defenders and use his long arms to cut off passing lanes. He’s also a phenomenal wing rebounder. On offense, Bates-Diop can shoot, he’ll be a lob threat due to his length, and he’s developed a decent post-up game as well. There’s work to be done in figuring out exactly the best way to use Bates-Diop at the next level, but it will be a fun process.
Bates-Diop is a hard worker and while he needs to put on strength and improve his shooting consistency to reach his maximum potential, he’s the type of player who could have a long, productive NBA career. Coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff are excited to get Bates-Diop in the building and get to work. His development will be fun to watch.