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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Dieng on Knicks: 'I think I can fit in'

By Ian Begley

Louisville center Gorgui Dieng
Louisville center Gorgui Dieng could still be available when the Knicks pick at 24.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who's pretty connected in NBA circles, expects Gorgui Dieng to be drafted between 12th and 20th in the first round of next Thursday's NBA draft.

If Pitino's right, Dieng won't be available when the Knicks pick at 24.

But if he's wrong, the Knicks may jump at the opportunity to take the ex-Cardinals big man. And he'd be happy to land in New York.

"I think I can fit in here," Dieng said Tuesday after working out for the Knicks. He later added: "I don't really care [where I get drafted]. I'm just looking for longevity."

Longevity is hard to find in the NBA, but Dieng could be a good fit for the Knicks right now.

In a draft filled with quality center prospects -- Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller, Alex Len among others -- Dieng stands out for his 7-4 wingspan and uncanny ability to defend the paint.

He was the driving force behind Louisville's stout defense last season and one of the chief reasons the Cardinals ended up as the last team standing in college basketball.

So there's no question that the 6-11 Dieng can help the Knicks on the defensive end as a backup to Tyson Chandler.

But what about his offense?

As this terrific breakdown on Taylor Armosino's Knicks blog notes, Dieng has a solid mid-range jumper. But can he operate in the post? Dieng admitted Tuesday that he's more comfortable facing the basket.

"I just prefer to face up because that's what I've been taught. But I can go back to the basket too," Dieng says. "But at this level things are very different and ... you need to go straight to the bottom and start learning again."

Dieng's lack of offense combined with his age (he's 23) may hurt his stock. ESPN.com senior NBA writer Chad Ford reports that injury concerns (ankle, knee) have caused Dieng's stock to slip. In his latest mock draft, Ford has Dieng going 28th to the Spurs. That's outside of the 12-20 range that Pitino has told Dieng to expect.

But that also means Dieng would be available when the Knicks pick at 24.

Question: Would you draft Dieng if he was available at No. 24? What if Tony Mitchell and Dieng were available at the same pick? Who would you select?

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