Milwaukee Bucks: Why the OKC Thunder are perfect for Mamadi Diakite

Jul 22, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Ebony Cox/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK
Jul 22, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Ebony Cox/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK /

Many were initially surprised when the Milwaukee Bucks let go of a fan favorite last week.

That would be Mamadi Diakite, the energetic big man who spent last season with the Bucks after four years at Virginia. Having gone undrafted in 2020, Diakite began his journey in Milwaukee on a two-way deal but persistently worked and eventually earned himself a standard contract. He did not suit up much for the Bucks, having appeared in just 14 games for an average of 10.1 minutes per contest, but his locker room and sidelined presence made him an easy player to root for on a very likable Bucks team.

Spotrac’s Keith Smith was the first to report that Diakite would be waived by the Bucks, but it would not take long for him to find another home. The OKC Thunder have reportedly claimed the 24-year-old off waivers and will bring him in with 2021 training camp set to kick off in the coming days. Honestly, Diakite might have landed in the perfect spot as he tries to carve out a role in the league, as this franchise should give him a great opportunity to show his talents consistently.

Mamadi Diakite should see a more prominent opportunity with the OKC Thunder than what the Milwaukee Bucks could provide

Being a team at the forefront of title contention, the Bucks were never expected to give Diakite a prominent role in the rotation. With top-tier names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis in the mix, minutes were hard to come by for the youngster. On the other hand, the Thunder’s youth-first approach should help the soon-to-be sophomore get more meaningful time in a rotation.

The Thunder have embraced a full-on rebuild over the past several years, prioritizing youth and the future rather than competing for a title right now. General manager Sam Presti has not been shy about trading away veteran players for draft capital, and that could be the case with at the center position this coming season. OKC has two veteran centers on their roster in Derrick Favors and Mike Muscala, both of which are over the age of 30. They will likely be available in trade talks this coming season and could be moved as the team looks to emphasize their youth.

Diakite gives them an option at the position that will better fit their timeline. He is not the only option they have at the position in terms of youth, as Aleksej Pokusevski and Isaiah Roby will both be on the roster, but Diakite will help reinforce this frontcourt further. This team is willing to wait it out and see what they have, and they are certainly hoping that Diakite could develop into a hidden gem after having shown glimpses of potential during his brief time in Milwaukee.

This was most notable during his short stint with the Lakeland Magic in the G-League bubble last season, where Diakite averaged an eye-catching 18.5 points,10.4 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in 27.7 minutes per game. His stellar efforts earned him an All-NBA G-League first-team selection, an All-Rookie selection, and an All-Defensive nod. He has the potential to be a solid two-way big man in this league, and it will be up to the Thunder to properly help him develop to reach that point. Due to their focus on youth and patience, the 24-year-old could not have found himself in a better spot.

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Best of luck to NBA Champion, Mamadi Diakite!