|Team: Spurs College Team: Jazz|
H: 6' 8"|
W: 203 lbs
(34 Years Old)
|Agent: Doug Neustadt |
Hometown: Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France
Drafted: Pick 21 in 2003 by Hawks
Overview: A long, versatile forward who has had his ups and downs production wise, but remains one of the NBA’s most unique role players. A positionless player who sees minutes offensively at the 3, 4 and even the 5 on occasion, but is capable of passing the ball better than many point guards. Guards the 1-5 defensively. Possesses great size for the perimeter and adequate height for a power forward. Doesn’t have ideal bulk for the low post, but is crafty enough that it doesn’t really matter. Would really be well served by improving his outside shot. Not very quick or explosive, but is fluid in the open floor and shows good lateral quickness defensively. An outstanding passer who can act as a catalyst for his teammates offensively. Was a very distinguished player on the junior national level for France. Became a force in the French League as well. Wasn’t an overnight success in the NBA—needed the combination of Mike D’Antoni’s creativity and Steve Nash’s playmaking skills to find his niche in the NBA. Won the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 2006. Made significant strides in his game, but has seen his conditioning drop-off dramatically after he signed his lucrative contract. Criticized for a certain lack of mental toughness. Often too unselfish for his own good, prone to inconsistency and passivity. Losing weight may help improve his relatively average athleticism.
Offense: Gets about one-third of his touches in catch and shoot situations from the midrange, but gets his shots from a plethora of different situations. Shows a decent mid-range jump shot that doesn’t have great range or consistency. Seems to have developed a habit of flicking the ball at the rim rather than using his legs to generate power. This is largely due to the fact that he naturally leans to the left when he shoots. Doesn’t make a lot of threes, which makes him a bit difficult to plug into just any offensive situation. Not a great catch and shoot player, but will make a shot or two on occasion. Nothing that can be relied upon consistently though. Struggles with his pull-up jumper as well. Gets quite a few touches in the post, and might be at his best here. Gets the vast majority of his touches on the left block, turning over his left shoulder for easy baby-hooks. Knows how to use his strong trunk to back his man down, which makes him a pretty solid weapon against certain types of player. Will show an up-and-under move or a full hook periodically. Poses a match up problem for most small forwards on the block due to his size and wingspan. Always keeps his head up for a teammate (usually Amare Stoudemire) flashing into the paint. Has very good ball handling ability for a player his size. Isn’t quick enough to turn the corner, but will dribble his man down into the post and go to work. Won’t be as effective when he has to create his own shot. Takes some bad off-balance short-range shots when he can’t get an open look at the rim. Not the most explosive finisher at the rim, and struggles with contact. Goes to the line at a low rate due to his aversion to contact. Not an awful foul shooter, but not a good one either. Will grab an occasional offensive rebound. Sets decent screens and runs the floor well. Passes the ball wonderfully for a player his size—among the league’s best forwards in this area. Shows great court vision, but is often unselfish to a fault. One of the more versatile offensive players around. Not consistent enough to be a major threat, and not a great matchup against certain teams. Definitely needs to be in the right system to fully utilize his extremely unique skill-set.
Defense: Capable of defending almost any position depending on the matchup, and is often forced to due to Phoenix’s limitations with Steve Nash. Has great length and is extremely crafty on this end of the floor. Doesn’t force many turnovers or block many shots. Has the size to defend the post and the quickness to defend the perimeter. Shows good footwork on the defensive end and will get in a good stance on the ball. Seems to put a good effort in on this end of the court. Won’t get many rebounds, tending to look for transition opportunities rather than help out on the glass. Not a dominant presence, but is useful due to the number of positions he can defend.
One of the most improved players in the world over the past year, International or not, Boris Diaw has gone from being an underachieving prospect with the Atlanta Hawks to one of the most highly unique and sought after forwards in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns. What ironically might have jump-started his career and gave him the confidence he needed to cash in on his awesome potential was the stint he had in last summer’s Eurobasket Tournament in Belgrade, where he helped France to the Bronze medal.
To further justify the huge leap Diaw has made over the past 12 months, he’s been named the Captain of the French National team; quite an accomplishment for a player who was considered too meek and timid to not be an offensive liability for the Atlanta Hawks, at least according to them.
Now Diaw comes to Japan as one of the most recognizable stars in the basketball world and with the expectations of the leader for a team that is considered one of the favorites to come away with the Gold.
What was once considered his biggest weakness has now become his biggest strength playing for one of the most innovative coaches and systems in the NBA under Mike D’Antoni and the Phoenix Suns. Diaw is essentially a player without a position, featuring the passing and ball-handling skills of a guard, the length and size of a forward, and the toughness and basketball IQ to even defend Centers like Yao Ming if asked to. It works for the Suns, but there are many more conservative coaches who wouldn’t quite know how to utilize him.
Diaw is a mismatch threat waiting to happen, comfortable facing the basket and using his athleticism to get by players and finish with the utmost creativity. While his perimeter shooting is still quite poor, he excels at finding the open seams in the defense with his freelance off the ball movement to knock down mid-range jumpers.
Aggressive and instinctive, Diaw is an outstanding rebounder who is particularly good on the offensive end. What really makes him an elite level player is his incredible court vision, though. Diaw averaged an astounding 6.2 assists last season from the power forward or center position for Phoenix, many of them downright spectacular.
Defensively, Diaw is almost equally as impressive, utilizing his long arms, excellent toughness and superb athleticism to bother players bigger or smaller than him in the post or on the perimeter.
Diaw's often excessive unselfishness will be put to the test in Japan where he will be forced to shoulder a bigger offensive load than he usually does with the Suns. How he will handle this task will tell us plenty about the player he has evolved into at age 24 and just how ready he might be to step up and take the Phoenix Suns to the next level year while competing for an NBA championship ring.
The difference between playing with a point guard like Tony Parker instead of Steve Nash will also become crystal clear in the evaluation process. Further complicating matters is the fact that he's looking for a long-term extension in the 50+ million dollar range this summer, with top decision maker Mike D'Antoni not far away watching. If he has the type of summer many envision from him, look for the extension to get done now rather than waiting for restricted free agency next year.