Milwaukee Bucks: Mamadi Diakite is showing why he’s worth investing in

Jan 26, 2020; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 26, 2020; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) /

Given their current financial outlook, the Milwaukee Bucks building up an internal core has and continues to be imperative for their future.

Save for Donte DiVincenzo, who is coming along nicely in his third NBA season, the Bucks haven’t had much time for the few prospects on their roster. Their pair of rookies from the 2020 NBA Draft, Sam Merrill and Jordan Nwora, have both been recalled from the G League bubble and have seen very limited time up in Milwaukee to this point in the season. The same goes fourth-year forward D.J. Wilson, who has cemented himself as being on the periphery of the Bucks’ roster.

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While their G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, isn’t in action this condensed G League season, two-way player Mamadi Diakite is doing his part to turn some heads while on assignment in the G League.

In his ten appearances with the Lakeland Magic, Diakite is up to averaging 17.6 points on .575/.500/.762 shooting splits, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2 blocks across 26.5 minutes per game, with all but one of his appearances coming off the bench.

The early flashes of potential that Diakite was showing early upon joining the Lakeland Magic have been a regular feature as he’s gotten his run as a professional since going undrafted in last year’s draft.

There’s obviously been the gaudy stat lines, whether it’s the six 20-point games he’s had as well as the seven double-doubles he’s tallied over his time in the bubble. The fact that Diakite’s still making a meaningful impact on both ends of the floor has buoyed the Magic and their five-man lineup shifts by head coach Stan Heath. To that point, Diakite has a +0.5 net rating over his 234 minutes on the floor, per the G League’s stats database.

Mamadi Diakite could be valuable to the Milwaukee Bucks’ future.

While Diakite has lit it up on the G League level, his continued success and fascinating skill set only poses an interesting question for the Bucks and their roster moving forward. All Bucks fans know the cap crunch the team will be in moving forward once Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supermax extension kicks in and whatever Jrue Holiday’s next contract looks like, should he stay in Milwaukee long-term.

With players like Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Khris Middleton taking up so much of the Bucks’ cap and with limited future assets, the Bucks are treading a fine line in terms of improving their roster on the whole. That only makes the need to hit on players and prospects on the margins for their internal growth to matter in the long run.

To this point, the Bucks have never really invested in their two-way players in terms of players receiving meaningful NBA minutes or eventually receive a standard NBA deal from the Bucks. The lone exception to this point was Sean Kilpatrick during the 2017-18 in a moment of cap gymnastics from general manager Jon Horst.

Could Diakite change this pattern? It’s very early to have an opinion one way or the other, other than to say that the early returns are certainly promising.

A player of Diakite’s size, physical tools and athleticism will always get a look from inquisitive NBA teams, especially as the league continues to prioritize more frontcourt versatility.

The fact that Diakite has clearly progressed in his scoring abilities, especially in the jump to the professional level, certainly is a big notch under his belt from what he showed over the majority of his time at Virginia. Being able to space the floor on a higher volume still remains one of the bigger questions at this stage in Diakite’s development, but his touch and form when letting it fly are effective, even if he may have to speed up his release, should he get NBA minutes.

Along with his scoring developments, Diakite’s playmaking and feel for the game have all shined, especially when executing from the elbow or in dribble handoffs. While his handle needs to tighten up, he’s been very comfortable going coast to coast when cleaning up misses on the defensive glass.

Defensively, Diakite’s ability to cover so much ground and defend pick-and-rolls either at the level of the screen or in traps doesn’t just make him a normal rim protector. Those qualities certainly help him recover if need be and his ability to drop back and solely protect the basket has led to many opportunities for him to alter shot attempts at the cup.

As Diakite continues to add more strength to his frame, being able to withstand and hold his rebounding position against more hefty NBA centers will be a big test to pass in terms of the physicality he has yet to face so far.

Next. Confidence remains the key for Donte DiVincenzo. dark

But as far as the test that Diakite is currently acing right now, the skilled big man has shown his professional future is bright at this early stage. Now whether it will continue in Milwaukee beyond this season is growing more interesting.