With the draft beginning to come to a close, the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that isn’t shy with their love of international talent, landed Utah’s No. 54 overall pick in exchange for cash considerations and used it to draft Spanish forward, Daniel Diez.
Dani as he’s commonly known as, spent this past season playing for San Sebastián Gipuzkoa Basket Club, one of the worst teams in Spain. However, the 22-year old still belongs to one of Europe’s top clubs in Real Madrid, the team he spent the previous five years of his basketball career playing for. He was loaned out the Gipuzkoa by Real Madrid in order to hone his skills further, as the versatile small forward was asked to play a central role on his new team, which was shown in his 12.1 points, team-leading 6.8 rebounds in 30 minutes.
Graphic via realmadrid
Diez’s physical tools are very odd upon first glance. At -8, he has good size to play the small forward position in the NBA, but his wingspan, a trait that teams are valuing more and more, measures in at an unusually short -5. Though he’s shown to be a solid leaper with decent speed and agility, by NBA standards, he’s merely average at best and lacks that athletic explosiveness needed to consistently be a threat to attack the rim. This translates to the other end of the court too, as his lack of lateral quickness is going to trouble him against the many athletic wings that the NBA has to offer.
However, what Diez lacks in athleticism and swiftness, he makes up for with his relentless activity and exceptional basketball IQ. The Madrid native also gained valuable experience playing for the Spanish national team each year. From a young age, Diez was considered to be an important future piece of Spanish basketball, and the program has instilled faith by selecting him for FIBA Under 16, 18 and 20 teams yearly since 2009. As a result, he has been playing international basketball at a high level for quite some time now. Scouts love Dani’s work ethic on and off the court. Not only is he a proclaimed gym rat, but also on the court he’s going to be an energy player that will dive for loose balls and do the little things that help teams win.
Offensively, Diez is a great spot-up shooter, having knocked down 42% of his treys last season with Gipuzkoa. His shot mechanics leave little to be desired and his shooting percentages are a true reflection of his good shot selection. Although he nails his spot-up jump shots, they account for nearly half of his total field-goal attempts, displaying his inability to create his own shot. At the NBA level, he’s going to have to feed off of good looks created by other players and solid cuts slashing to the hoop. He’s able to do this because of his outstanding basketball smarts and fundamentals. His successes on the offensive and defensive boards are due to his technique and activity, rather than the more common athleticism and length.
It’s more than likely that Diez will choose to stay in the Spain’s ACB league for a few more years. This looks like it can be a win-win for all parties involved, as Dani will have the opportunity to contribute to Euroleague powerhouse Real Madrid while the Trail Blazers will continually monitor his developmental progress until they feel he’s ready to contribute to their team.
Graphic via zetaboards