Milwaukee Bucks: Two-way player Mamadi Diakite makes G League debut

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - MARCH 07: (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - MARCH 07: (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks remain on their road trek out West, but Bucks players remain in action with the G League season starting up this week.

Following the G League debuts of Bucks rookies Sam Merrill and Jordan Nwora Wednesday, fellow rookie and two-way player Mamadi Diakite followed suit with his own G League debut Thursday night in the Lakeland Magic’s 104-102 loss to the Austin Spurs.

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Coming off the bench for the Magic, Diakite’s night came to an early end as he finished with six points on 3-of-8 shooting (0-for-1 from three), four rebounds as well as four blocks, three assists as well as three turnovers in nearly 16 minutes of action.

Upon seeing his first official game action in nearly a year, Diakite got right to work early as he knocked down a faceup jumper in the post. He followed that up with an impressive swat on Spurs forward and Sacramento Kings assignee Robert Woodard II on a corner 3-point attempt.

Diakite continued following up his strong start by exploding and throwing down an alley oop slam and protecting the rim, but foul trouble soon set in for the Virginia product. The 24-year-old’s rawness and lack of defensive discipline certainly showed as he picked up three fouls by halftime.

As Diakite fought off foul trouble in the second half, the 6’9″ big man showed off his ball skills by making nice reads to cutting teammates and working through handoffs. While he was rusty when trying to make things happen off the dribble, this nice one-handed reverse dunk on a dribble drive out of the post was mighty impressive.

Unfortunately, though, Diakite’s foul trouble caught up to him as he picked up his sixth and final foul at the 9:29 mark in the fourth quarter. Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement, but the fact that Diakite showed some flashes in his first run as a professional was reassuring all the same.

Milwaukee Bucks rookie guard Sam Merrill showed out Thursday afternoon.

Along with Diakite, I just wanted to make a note on Merrill’s strong performance in the Memphis Hustle’s 114-102 victory over the Canton Charge earlier Thursday afternoon.

The Utah State alum finished with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting (4-for-6 from long range, 0-for-1 from the foul line), six assists, two steals as well as two turnovers in nearly 31 minutes of action.

Just as the Hustle did overall, Merrill bounced back having found his shot from three after having gone 0-for-6 the previous day. With that kind of sharpshooting mixed in with canny cuts off the ball and incisive passes to teammates, Merrill really connected and fortified the Hustle’s multi-dimensional offense in many ways.

Along with that, I continue to be impressed by Merrill’s defensive services, especially when in help situations by breaking into passing lanes and making timely double team to further pressure players near the basket. It all adds up in Merrill being a very sound, well-rounded player and while he does lack explosiveness and athleticism, it’s a showing like this where he can show his NBA potential.

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With the G League season fully underway and going on for the next month, we’ll continue checking in with the Bucks’ rookies from time to time. It’s clear, though, that between Diakite, Merrill and Jordan Nwora that the Bucks have some interesting prospects on hand that could eventually be meaningful pieces down the road.