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What Los Angeles Clippers fans can expect from Moussa Diabate

Perhaps he can reach his full potential at the next level.

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Villanova v Michigan Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

After one year with the Michigan Wolverines, Moussa Diabate has decided to pursue his NBA dreams and was drafted 43rd overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2022 NBA Draft.

In his freshman season at Michigan, Diabate earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors after averaging 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game. He shot 56.4% from the field and 61.9% from the free throw line. It took him a bit to find his footing, but he never gave up the starting spot after taking it away from Brandon Johns early in the year.

Diabate was part of one of the most highly-touted recruiting classes Michigan has had in years. A five-star recruit from Paris, France, Diabate was one of three McDonald’s All-Americans in Michigan’s 2022 class, with him, Caleb Houstan and Kobe Bufkin.

The athletic big man turned a few heads at the NBA Draft Combine, ranking near the top among centers in many of the combine drills.

He’s an incredibly versatile defender who can protect the rim and hold his own against guards on switches. He also improved offensively as the year went on, showcasing a nice face-up game, finishing through contact on the block and developing a nice baby hook in the post.

His shortcomings are pretty easy to see on the offensive end. He doesn’t have much of a jump shot, only attempted 31 combined mid-range and three-point jumpers last season. His hands are also a real worry, as he simply dropped a lot of dump-down passes that could have led to easy points.

Defensively, he was an excellent help-side defender who showed he can hold his own against guards. But as The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie pointed out in his 130-page draft guide, Diabate tended to be a little too aggressive on defense and got into foul trouble often.

Those shortcomings limit his potential in the eyes of NBA teams, which is a big reason why he was drafted so low. But as we saw in the NBA Finals earlier this month, a guy like Robert Williams — who can protect the rim, be a tenacious rebounder and catch lobs on offense — can be a crucial piece during a playoff run.

Diabate could grow into a player like that and if he manages to develop a competent jumpshot and can improve his handle, he’ll have a lengthy NBA career.

The Clippers have a fairly deep roster, and Diabate likely won’t be expected to contribute right away, giving him time to develop around quality shot makers like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Reggie Jackson. Hopefully he can grow offensively and be a lob threat for those guys while thriving on the defensive end and rebounding with tenacity.

We at Maize n Brew wish him the best of luck, and we’ll be sure to keep tabs on him throughout his professional career.