Cheap Options: Ike Diogu, The Guy that Never Panned Out

Oct. 12, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Ike Diogu (50) handles the ball against Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 104-93. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

When Ike Diogu entered the league, hopes were high. Comparisons of a young Elton Brand were thrown out.

Ike Diogu has a similar build to Brand’s, a similar game, but he lacks one thing that Brand has: basketball IQ.

Frequently, Diogu finds himself utterly lost on defensive rotations. It’s something he just never grasped, and it stands to reason that he may never. But that doesn’t preclude his ability to be a featured part in a second unit. Diogu finished third in the NBDL last season in rebounding, averaging 9.8 rebounds a game. Further, he finished with the third highest PER in the D-league, about 22.

Diogu was taken 9th overall in 2005, and has spent the majority of that time in the developmental league. It becomes pretty perplexing that he can’t stick at the NBA level given his per minute production as a pro. He’s shot over 50 percent from the floor while putting per-36 averages of 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.

Oddly, Diogu’s rookie season was his most productive, and the season in which he saw the most minutes (14.9 per game). The Warriors gave Diogu one more season to prove he could grasp offensive sets and defensive rotations, before giving up and making Diogu part of a multi-player trade with the Indiana Pacers.

Diogu hasn’t had a guaranteed deal since 2008-09 when he was paid $2.9 million by the Sacramento Kings. Not having made a valuable contribution at the NBA level in six seasons, Diogu could be signed for less than a million, most likely. He’s now 30 years old, and unlikely to ever fulfil the vast potential he had coming out of Arizona State, but the Rockets could give Diogu another swing at the pro level.

While it’s doubtful he could put up the numbers of Terrence Jones or Donatas Motiejunas, he could provide insurance on the front line. Remember, the Rockets gave up on Greg Smith, who by all means is an adequate back up at the 5-spot. Diogu, while just 6’8”, sports a stock frame like Brand’s which enables him to see minutes at center. It’s the kind of low risk move that would make sense, and also help the Rockets fill out the roster.

Tags: Houston Rockets Ike Diogu NBA Free Agency NBDL

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