LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Thursday is a day to salute Gorgui Dieng – and remember Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter, Shabazz Muhammad and Shane Larkin.
As we prepare to hyperventilate over the 2014 NBA Draft, remember that king-sized mistakes will be made. They always are.
Dieng, the former University of Louisville center, is a 6-foot-11 example of that. Dieng was voted to the NBA all-rookie second team Thursday, earning 21 votes for the first team and 54 for the second team.
Not bad for a guy who was taken with the 21st pick as he made his way to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Not bad for a recruit who didn't become a four-star prospect until late in his senior season. Not bad for any player.
Dieng is the best former U of L rookie since … good questions, isn’t it?
Terrance Williams? Earl Clark? Francisco Garcia? Pervis Ellison?
What was the name of that recruit that Louisville lost before Rick Pitino was forced to bring in Dieng as his replacement four years ago?
Fab something-or-other? Went to Syracuse? Whatever happened to him?
In fact, Dieng jumped in front of seven Top 10 picks from the 2013 Draft:
Bennett (first to Cleveland); Porter (third to Washington); Alex Len (fifth to Phoenix); Nerlens Noel (sixth to Philadelphia, where he missed all season with a knee injury); Ben McLemore (seventh to Sacramento); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (eighth by Detroit) and C.J. McCollum (10th by Portland).
It was an embarrassing year for scouts and general managers because the top vote getter, the only player to earn 125 first-place votes, was the 11th overall pick.
That would be former Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams, who essentially locked up the rookie of the year award on opening night when he delivered 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds against Miami.
Another player made every ballot but one. That would be former Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, who starred for the Orlando Magic. Oladipo was snubbed by Kevin Calabro, who works for ESPN radio in Seattle. He also is a Butler grad. Hmmm.
Oladipo will play at least 10 years in the league and will eventually make an NBA all-star team. Book it. And, like Dieng, Oladipo was a three-star recruit in high school.
Oladipo and Carter-Williams were joined on the first team by two former Michigan stars (Trey Burke, Utah and Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Knicks) as well as Mason Plumlee of Brooklyn via Duke.
The second team was packed with big men – Dieng, Cody Zeller (IU and Charlotte); Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga, Boston); Steven Adams (Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece, Milwaukee).
So here are the draft slots of the Top 10 rookies: First team (2nd, 9th, 11th, 22nd and 24th); second team (4th; 12th; 13th, 21st, and 15th.)
The season statistics confirm the wisdom of the selections: Oladipo ranked second among all rookies in points (13.8) and steals (1.6). He was also third in assists.
Dieng trailed only Carter-Williams and Olynyk in rebounds, averaging 5.0 boards and 4.8 points.
Zeller contribute to a Charlotte team that made the playoffs with 6 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Another embarrassing performance by NBA general managers and scouts.