Season Recap: Ousmane Dieng had an under the radar rookie year

Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Ousmane Dieng with the 11th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. After trading three first-round picks for the rights to Dieng, the OKC Thunder put him on a developmental plan that included the NBA G-League.

During Summer League, Dieng suffered a wrist injury which sidelined him for most of the Vegas event. Then, after his best NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks on December 6th, the 19-year-old suffered another wrist injury that sidelined him until mid-January. However, it is important to note that this wrist injury was unrelated to the one suffered in July.

Despite a clunky season, Ousmane Dieng showed positive signs as a rookie for the OKC Thunder.

Everyone should understand that despite being selected in the lottery, Ousmane Dieng was always a project of a prospect. When he turns in a five-point, two rebounds, and an assist per game rookie year, that should not discourage Thunder fans. With shooting splits of 42/26/65 at the NBA level.

Ousmane Dieng’s production mostly game down at the NBA G-League with the OKC Blue. Headed up by one of the best developmental coaches in the organization, Kameron Woods, Dieng thrived.

Dieng was ranked in the 75th percentile as a spot-up shooter, in the 71st percentile as a cutter, and in a jaw-dropping 89th percentile when coming off screens.

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With his 6’10 and 216-pound frame, Dieng showed off his defensive prowess even at the NBA level against Steph Curry, shutting him down and ripping the ball away from him on one possession.

The top-12 pick offers stopper upside on the defensive end while filling out a role in the Thunder offense for Mark Daigneault. Thriving as a cutter and catch-and-shoot numbers with the Blue, he will fit seamlessly into the Thunder rotation if he can carry that into the NBA.

At the G-League level, Dieng shot 39 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts and produced 1.348 points per possession on cuts with the Blue.

At the NBA level, the rookie, who at times lacked aggression, was able to post 73 percent at the rim (ranking in the 86th percentile for his position). The key for Dieng will be wanting to get downhill consistently and relentlessly.

Sometimes, Ousmane Dieng floats around on the court, even at the G-League level. However, the key for the young wing will be his “want to” meter on his aggression scale.

Overall, understanding the expectation levels of Dieng coming into the year, it is hard not to consider this season a success. Sure, he did not have the flashy first-year campaign of his lottery counterpart Jalen Williams, but he checked some boxes and showed promise.

At 19 years old, with a front office in Sam Presti that has been zeroing in on Dieng since he was 16, it is okay to give the wing time before writing him off. A whole summer of development, which will include NBA Summer League, will do the former lottery pick a lot of good.

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