2. Keita Bates-Diop
Prior to the start of this season, not many people recognized the name Keita Bates-Diop, as he was a second-round draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
During KBD’s rookie season, he spent a large portion of it in the G-League playing on the Iowa Wolves, which is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ affiliate. While playing in the G-League during the 2018-19 season, Bates-Diop posted a stat line of 17.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while also shooting 33.7 percent from distance.
This was a drastic improvement over KBD’s play for Minnesota, as he only averaged five points per game and shot a measly 25 percent from 3-point range during the 2018-19 season.
This season, however, the 6-foot-8 forward is shooting 36.3 percent from downtown, which is significantly better than his rookie season and is also averaging 14.1 points and 6 rebounds per 36 minutes. Bates-Diop would certainly have countless wide-open 3-point opportunities due to the double-teams James Harden draws on a nightly basis and Russell Westbrook’s ability to drive and kick out to the open shooter.
As Bates-Diop has a salary of $1.4 million this season, the Rockets could use the trade exception they landed in either the Carmelo Anthony or Nik Stauskas trade to acquire KBD.
From Minnesota’s standpoint, you’d have to think they would be willing to do a deal with the Rockets considering how they’re only playing KBD 18 minutes per game, which is nearly the same as the 16.8 minutes he played during his rookie season. In spite of the fact that the 23-year-old is having a career year, the Wolves are nearly playing him the same amount of minutes he played during a struggling rookie season, which shows how little they value him.
The Wolves could certainly use the draft picks more than they will use Bates-Diop, as they are clearly rebuilding. The Wolves are several years away from even being the eighth seed in the Western Conference, so it seems like a real possibility for the Houston Rockets to land Keita Bates-Diop. What’s intriguing about KBD’s situation is that most rebuilding teams would give 25+ minutes to a young, developmental piece like Bates-Diop, but that hasn’t happened with Minnesota this season.
On top of that, Bates-Diop will become a restricted free agent after the 2020-21 season, which is also something the Wolves will certainly keep in mind. Since the Wolves aren’t giving the Ohio State product a significant amount of playing time, you’d have to think the Rockets could land KBD with a second-round draft pick, which would be well worth it for a Rockets team in need of size and 3-point shooting.
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