Keita Bates-Diop was out to prove he was slighted when he fell to the second-round of the NBA Draft. Ohio State’s fearless leader was one of the best players in all of college basketball in 2017. That said, the former Buckeye fell to the 48th pick in the Draft.
Some of it likely had to do with the lack of consistent output in college. Bate-Diop’s sole high-level season came in 2017 after he missed all of 2016 with a stress fracture injury. The 6’9″ forward’s overall athleticism was called into question by some as well. The questions regarding athleticism led some to question his defensive impact in the NBA.
Proving the Doubters Wrong
Bates-Diop is a very long way from silencing those who doubted his NBA game. It will take substantial NBA contributions to do that. Of course, the swingman has not yet played in an NBA game. The best, and only, indicator thus far remains Summer League. As far as Summer League goes, Bates-Diop has been quite impressive.
Bates-Diop continued that run against the Denver Nuggets on Friday. The rookie scored 14 points, tied for the team-high. While he missed all 3 of his three-point attempts he was 6-9 (66.6%) from inside the arc. He also made both of his lone free throw attempts and dealt out 3 assists. Overall, it was another sound offensive night for the first-year pro.
The forward kept up his defensive efforts as well. The win over Denver was not his best defensive game of the summer, but that does not mean he was not productive. What Bates-Diop may lack in raw athleticism he makes up for with his size and length. At 6’9″ 225 pounds, he has the body to guard both forward spots in the NBA. Bates-Diop collected a steal, a block, and 4 rebounds to compliment his offensive performance. He played 34 out of 40 minutes in the 83-71 win.
Kenrich Williams Makes Most of Opportunity
The notable reason for the loss to Minnesota was the rest of guards Monte Morris and Malik Beasley. That said, the Summer League has always been more about finding hidden talent and developing players than it has been about winning games. The rest for Morris and Beasley opened the door for the rest of the team to grab some of the attention. Despite the loss, guard Kenrich Williams did just that.
Williams led the Nuggets with 17 points on 8-14 shooting (57.1%). He added 7 rebounds and 2 steals to his efforts as he made the most of what was given to him. A former TCU Horned Frog, Williams went undrafted this summer and is now looking to Summer League to make a lasting impression on NBA teams.
While Denver’s backcourt is likely set for years to come any strong performance is a positive for Williams. Just because the Nuggets may not need another guard does not mean there is no room for him in the NBA ranks. Play well for long enough, and somebody will come calling for his services. A highly efficient showing in Summer League is a good start.