The 2022 NBA Draft is just two days away. Dozens of young players will get the chance to pursue their professional dreams and start their NBA careers. Two Michigan Wolverines could be drafted on Thursday, as Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate both stayed in the draft after one year in Ann Arbor.
There’s no question both guys are talented, but they will both need a little bit of time to develop before they’d contribute regularly in the NBA.
Here are the some of the best possible fits for Houstan and Diabate.
Golden State Warriors (Draft picks: 28, 51)
This one is a great fit for obvious reasons — the Warriors are the most successful franchises of the past 10 years. Since 2013, they’ve been to six NBA Finals and have won four of them.
To say they have organizational stability is an understatement, as they have shown the last few seasons that young guys can thrive, giving them the patience to catch up to the speed of the NBA without asking them to do too much. Guys like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody were key parts of the Warriors winning the championship this season, and they should continue to grow because of the team they play on.
This is the type of organization Houstan can thrive; he can take time to fully develop and grow in the Warriors’ offensive system. And until he reaches his full potential, he can thrive in a role where he won’t be expected to do anything more than shoot three-pointers and be a key cog in the defense.
Memphis Grizzlies (Draft picks: 22, 29)
This is another organization where young players can thrive. Guys like Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman are already contributing as key pieces a few years into their careers.
As Parker Fleming of SB Nation’s Grizzly Bear Blues pointed out in his scouting report, Houstan is very similar to Ziaire Williams coming into the draft. But partially because of the Grizzlies development infrastructure, Williams in a great spot to grow as a player.
If he were drafted by Memphis, Houstan would be able take time to develop and potentially grow into a 3-and-D guy for them.
New Orleans Pelicans (Draft picks: 8, 41, 52)
Houstan could add a lot to the Pelicans, who were a fan favorite for a few weeks when they made it out of the play-in tournament and took the 64-win Phoenix Suns to six games.
The Pelicans are a fun young team and are bound to get better, but are in desperate need of three-point shooting. The only teams that made a smaller percentage of their threes last season were the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder.
On the Pelicans, Houstan could provide that three-point shooting and could complement a forward like Brandon Ingram well. The Pelicans are a team to watch for here, as they have a pick in the middle of the second round, which is where most mocks project the Michigan forward to go.
Boston Celtics (Draft pick: 53)
What we just saw in the NBA Finals with Robert Williams was a glimpse of what we could see in the NBA from Diabate: a big man who can rebound, defend the paint and be a lob threat despite being limited on offense.
The Celtics haven’t had the greatest track record with recent draft picks, but playing alongside playmakers like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart would be huge for Diabate’s development.
Detroit Pistons (Draft picks: 5, 46)
Maybe this is my unfounded Detroit sports optimism talking, but for the first time in years, the Pistons have a clear direction and a good collection of young players in Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart.
As I recently discussed with Steve Pelletier of Detroit Bad Boys, out of the Michigan guys, Diabate could be the best fit for the Pistons in a backup center role behind Stewart. Practicing against a guy like Stewart and running the pick-and-roll with Cunningham would do wonders for his development as well.
Diabate could have a lengthy NBA career as a center who does the dirty work and has a few big dunks on the other end, and the Pistons could use another piece in the frontcourt.
Portland Trail Blazers (Draft picks: 7, 36, 59)
The Trail Blazers have two picks in the second round, and I could see them using one of those picks to take a swing on Diabate.
Portland is looking to retool quickly and get back in the playoff hunt with Damian Lillard nearing the end of his prime. Diabate is a guy the Blazers could plug in right away as a rim protector who could help with their rebounding woes (the Trail Blazers were ranked towards the bottom of the league in every major rebounding category).
Portland has a lot of young guys fighting for playing time right now, and Diabate could separate himself from those guys if thrown into the fire. He could also learn a few things offensively from Jusuf Nurkic and could work well in the pick-and-roll with Lillard and Anfernee Simons.