NBL X NBA – Dieng joins Giddey at Thunder
THE National Basketball League (NBL)’s Next Stars Program just received a massive boost, with another member being selected in the lottery of the NBA Draft. Former New Zealand Breakers young gun Ousmane Dieng was selected with the New York Knicks at pick 11, before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he will join another NBL Next Stars graduate in Joshua Giddey.
The 6ft 10in Forward worked his way into the season for the Breakers as the season went on, averaging double-digits in his last dozen outings. In those last 12 games, Dieng had nine games where he registered 10+ points, showing his true potential after a slow start.
His playmaking and athleticism were on full display throughout the 2021/22 season, while Dieng’s shooting and defence improved as the fixture went on. He grew into his shoes, in what is considered one of the toughest competitions for NBA Draft prospects to compete in.
Dieng spoke of his desire to improve upon arriving in the NBA and at his new team.
“I’m just excited to be part of the NBA. OKC is a young team,” Dieng said.
“I will improve on my decision making because everything is faster in the NBA, and probably keep improving my shot.”
He will now join former Adelaide 36ers guard Giddey on the Thunder, with the guard already a terrific success story of what the NBL can produce.
Giddey won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month four times in the 2021/22 NBA season, and has announced himself as one of the premier young talents the league has to offer.
With Dieng joining Oklahoma City, the Thunder will have two NBL Next Stars on their roster, and are a perfect example of how successful the program can be. The pair will likely see some playing time together, and the tough nature of the NBL has already worked in favour of Giddey, so it might do the same.
Many see Dieng as a development prospect, and if the Thunder agree, he may not see the most playing time. However, it will give him the opportunity to work on his craft, whether it be through limited NBA minutes or the G-League.
Dieng has shown some serious glimpses of potential for the Breakers, and the Thunder have taken full notice of that. Giddey will prove a terrific role model for the Forward, given he has undertaken a similar journey this past season. It is clear proof that the NBL is on the rise, and fans should expect more prospects to make their way to our shores.