TEAM: FC Barcelona II (Spain)
First-round pick for 2021 NBA Draft.
I think the 2002, 2003 and 2004 generations of Africa are dazzling. Names such as Khalifa Diop, Amar Sylla, Oumar Ballo, Yannick Nzosa, Youssouf Singare and Joshua Ojianwuna can find themselves a good role in the NBA. But I think Ibou Dianko Badji can be one of the top three players in a team.
Born on October 13, 2002 in Senegal, Badji is played at the NBA Academy Africa in Thies in 2017-2018. By the time he turned 15 years old, he stood about 7-1 with a 7-6 wingspan.
On November 27, 2018, he signed a contract with Barcelona. As a result of Barcelona's interest in countries such as Latin America and Africa, Badji came to the Catalan team. He spent much of the season playing for FC Barcelona B, the club's reserve team, in the third-tier LEB Plata. Also he played at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup where IDB averaged 6.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks while shooting 45.5% from the court.
In December 2019, he played for U18 FC Barcelona at ANGT Valencia, where he averaged eight points, 8.8 rebounds and five blocks per game.
By the way, he reported a height of 7’1, 7’8 wingspan and 9’10 standing reach at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Badji is physically perfect. His shoulders are wide and muscular. Chest muscles are stiff. Core muscles are strong. His arms are long, fast and muscular. Hip mobility in the lower body is not very good, but Badji has enough to speed up his footwork. I think his weight is ideal for his height. I think that having these things physically at the age of 18 makes him special.
But if we look at the NBA window, IDB physically creates two important question marks. Bigs in small ball lineups in the NBA should have lateral mobility and good full-court running. Badji does not have a good technique laterally. Also, he's not good at running the court fast, a bit slow.
So here are two questions that arise in my mind: Will Badji physically gain speed in the NBA? Will Badji consistently (in the sense of effort) be able to use his unique physical features in the crazy tempo in the NBA?
On the athletic side of the issue, he has almost everything. Vertical pop is excellent. The first step is not very hard, but when doing half reverse and going to the basket, the step hardness and softness help him. As I said, hip mobility is not very good, but I think it can do good about it in the development environment in the NBA.
I have mentally big question marks about Badji. Badji grew up in Senegal. He grew up in Senegal's basketball culture. IDB has been heading to "higher levels" for the past two years. He did not go to a tough battle mentally. I think that he has not shown anything mentally good in the wars he has entered so far. I mean, IDB is an explosive big that can crush his opponent and go into the basket or protect the rim but loses his concentration when Senegal's prospects make simple turnovers or cannot read rotation in defense. Cannot focus on the match.
He pushes positions in two or three attacks and his motor stops on defense. While his team is behind, he does his best but loses mental war when he doesn't reach the level wants individually. I am very curious about how mentally IDB can develop because he just has 11 months to the 2021 NBA Draft.
Great finisher for his age. Badji does a pretty nice job his length to get close to the basket when his momentum is bringing him there. He finishes well in traffic, can finish against double teams and can finish through contact with either hand. His basket touch is soft.
In my opinion, Badji has a good body coordination (he may lack a degree of eye-foot coordination because at the World Cup and some league matches, he missed a handful of dunks) and balance with solid first step, game IQ and stepping around defenses.
He is very active around the offensive glass with a nice second jump and putbacks. Can finish with huge explosiveness. However, again, I have doubts about this issue from the window in the NBA. Badji is a hard finisher around the basket but can enter "Shaqtin 'A Fool" when using his explosive against smart defenders in the NBA like Jonathan Isaac, Draymond Green, etc. So I think he should use his athleticism in a controlled and smarter way.
He needs to learn fluency. I think Badji is fit post player for the NBA. He does a good job getting position and moving away from incoming double teams, though. In my opinion, Dianko has a good jabstep jumper after the defender bites. He has shown pretty nice footwork overall in the post with long layups. He can dunk after some post moves thanks to his size and strong frame.
One of the biggest reasons I like Senegalese player's post games is that the court vision is good. Badji is not a good passer or ball-handler, but when he moves to the post zone, he can throw passes to cutter / catch & shooter / spot up shooter / free ISOr teammates. So he can create the team's spacing.
The most important thing for his future in the NBA is the shot. Badji does not use three-point shooting. However, this does not mean that he did not use any shots at all. When Badji takes the ball on baseline or on the roll area after pick & roll, he can use mid-range jumper while he is a few steps away from the basket. But the percentages of both these shots and free throws are low.
What I'm wondering here is he will be 19 when Badji enters the 2021 NBA Draft (if he enters). I think it wouldn't be a big loss to wait a year or two for his to develop. In this development process, I think he can be one of the elite elders of NBA if he can an average threat in his shooting. I think IDB can be a glue guy with his other features if he cannot show this improvement.
He has a mechanical handle. IDB is not someone who has the handle, creativity. In my opinion, this kid knows very well how should he use his physical tools for PnR situations with explosiveness, game reading, roll timing, half reverse and average footwork.
IDB is not as good rim protector as Yannick Nzosa (2003), but he will probably be one of the top three rim protectors in the 2021 NBA Draft pool. Badji has good timing when contesting shots in the paint. I think, he knows how to use his length and winspan for protect the rim.
He can sometimes swipe down on block attempts instead of going normal way but Dianko generally does a great job using the rule of verticality to contest shots. He can chasedown blocks, also, his on ball rim protection is good thanks to his quick hands and vertical pop (For example, 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup, Senegal vs. USA, Badji blocked Cade at the first quarter, 04:34).
I have big question marks from his PnR and off ball defenses from the NBA window ..As I said, Badji is not a great player laterally. I think he sees the effect of this situation on defense most. Dianko is slow against fast and clever guards (2019 ANGT Valencia, Herbalife Gran Canaria, Jean Montero defense) and mobile pivots (2019 ANGT Valencia, Valencia Basket, Alonso Faure). He has a hard time defending the handler during PnR.
Quickly passed. His hands are quick but that's not enough. I think he is not good to use his physical tools wisely against bigs like Faure. Also Badji is not someone I would want chasing players off screens.
In my opinion, IDB has to improve on these issues because NBA's modern era bigs are quicker. Also NBA teams are using more screen motions with pick to pick.
However, shows flashes about takes bad angles giving ballhandler an area to attack. Smart team defender. I mean he has good communication with his team. I like his on ball and post defenses. He has a strong base and strong upper body with room to grow.
Flashed ability to defend bigs in space who are can shoot, play post up and play with huge explosiveness. He has a pretty nice post up defense technique, I mean, he knows how to use his hands and feet as leverage. Also, his strong upper body and long arms help him about post up player's angle. I think he does a nice job battling in the post.
My major questions
Will his shot improve?
Will he have a consistent mentality on offense?
Will he be able to physically adapt to the NBA pace?
Ibaou Dianko Badji. He is a physically dazzling prospect. He does things well on offense and defense. I think 7-1 prospect has the effect to be a superstar. But he did not gain experience at higher levels. He did not go into hard mental wars. He was not found in a good team environment, good mentor. Khalifa Diop and Amar Sylla, an important Senegalese prospect such as Ibou, are experiencing these experiences/wars. Playing in Barcelona B is good, but I think the best thing for his development in the short term will be to play a team in Lithuania, Germany or Italy for the 2020-2021 season. For now, Badji is a risky pick for the top 10.