Milwaukee Bucks: Mamadi Diakite flashes potential while on assignment

Feb 29, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Feb 29, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

While he has yet to see a minute of action with the Milwaukee Bucks this season, two-way player Mamadi Diakite has been hard at work while on flex assignment in the G League.

That was certainly the case Sunday afternoon where Diakite and the Lakeland Magic matched up against the Memphis Hustle, who are currently housing fellow Bucks rookie Sam Merrill while he’s on assignment in the G League bubble.

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In the Magic’s dominant 98-87 victory over the Hustle, Diakite once again emerged as the star of the show, just as he did Friday afternoon.

The 24-year-old finished with a double-double of 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, 10 rebounds, five turnovers, two blocks as well as two assists, all on 23 minutes and 44 seconds off the bench.

As has been the case early on in his run with the Magic, Diakite has been impressing with his offensive abilities and scoring touch. Whether it’s setting screens, rolling to the rim and finishing with his off-hand or rising up to knock down 20-foot jumpers with ease, Diakite has acted as a real spark plug for the Magic and is now averaging 15.3 points through his three G League appearances.

Pairing that with 60 percent shooting from the field, Diakite has been highly efficient over his G League minutes. With that said, Diakite has yet to consistently stretch the floor to 3-point range as he’s 1-for-3 on the year. The fact, though, that he’s coming off a senior season where he went 20-for-55 from deep (36.4 percent) while at Virginia shows he is still scratching the surface in this area of his game.

Beyond his varied scoring ways, Diakite’s skills with the ball, specifically in his passing, has made him a magnet for pick-and-rolls and handoff sets with any of the Magic’s lead ball handlers. Diakite’s size and length gives him the ability to see over the top of the defenders and pick out teammates to keep the ball out of harm’s way and set up easy scoring opportunities for others.

While he’s been able to create his own shots such as going coast-to-coast, his loose handle certainly gets him into trouble and has resulted in the 3 turnovers per game he’s averaging so far.

On the defensive end, Diakite has been exactly as advertised. With his 7’3″ wingspan altering and deterring any shots that come his way when protecting the rim, Diakite is averaging 3 blocks per game so far. This towering standup block on a scramble play late in the first half against the Hustle easily stands as his crowning rejection of the season so far.

While his slender frame and lack of strength can see him get easily moved, Diakite’s rebounding instincts and overall catch radius helps him bring down any and all misses that come within his territory.

It’s only three G League appearances to gleam from, but the fact that Diakite has played at such a high level 11 months removed from his last official game action is highly impressive. What’s more is that much of what Diakite is doing in the G League looks to be somewhat translatable in terms of his role and how he can play to an NBA system.

Of course, reining in his foul trouble looks to be a significant issue to address as Diakite’s G League debut came to a premature end because of fouling out. Diakite also picked up four fouls against the Hustle Sunday afternoon.

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The Bucks have certainly had their success with two-way players in the past, such as having the 2019-20 G League MVP in Frank Mason III. With more seasoning as well as strong, well-rounded performances like we’re seeing so far this G League season, Diakite very well could be a success story in an entirely different way for Milwaukee.