Ike Diogu is another stretch five who is having a huge impact in the Chinese league this season. Li Muhao’s development has stagnated and Dongguan has primarily relied on the 31-year-old of Nigerian descent as a multi-dimensional scorer at center to stay in the hunt for a postseason berth.
Dongguan relies heavily on the three-point shot, with over a third of its total attempts coming from beyond the arc, and Diogu is a key contributor. He often gravitates towards the perimeter and isn’t shy of pulling the trigger, taking over a fourth of his shots from three-point range. Diogu doesn’t elevate much and doesn’t have a particularly quick release but does well when left open, having converted 43.8% of his 130 such shots.
He’s hitting enough from the outside to be respected, which draws the opposing big man a step closer when he’s roaming beyond the arc and permits him to take them off the bounce. Diogu gets isolated on the top of the key quite bit and has exhibited a pretty good handle to create his own shot on face-up drives against this level of competition.
He doesn’t have long strides or any sort of explosiveness and doesn’t get much separation but his footwork is pretty good, as he often relies on a slow-motion spin move to get within close range. Diogu is able to maintain balance through contact and uses his body well to protect the ball in traffic. His 10.9% turnover rate is quite low in the context of his 28.8% usage rate. And despite being undersized in a league where just about every team has a seven-foot tower in front of the rim, Diogu has shown pretty great touch to score around length, finishing 61% of his 367 two-point shots.
His athleticism is still above average in this league and Diogu has leveraged it for production on the glass, collecting 14.8% of Dongguan’s misses, which ranks him fourth in the CBA. He doesn’t get much elevation out of a standing still position and can’t finish with much power in a crowd but his six-foot-10, 250-pound frame invites a lot of contact. Between his face-up drives and putback attempts, Diogu is drawing shooting fouls at a very high rate – averaging 7.2 free throws per 36 minutes, which he’s converted at a 78.8% clip.
As a result of him bringing offensive rebounding, three-point shooting and volume foul shooting to the table, Dongguan is averaging 133.6 points per 100 possessions in Diogu’s 1,033 minutes – better than the team’s 124.6 overall mark. The weak points in his game are as a screener and sealing deep position but those are getting minimized because Dongguan runs a perimeter-oriented offense that rarely goes to the post and prefers running more pick-and-rolls on lineups with Li in it.
The team also defends better with him in the lineup, but his athletic decline is a bit more evident on this end. Diogu is coached to defend the pick-and-roll by dropping back to protect the lane. He’s moved laterally very fluidly and in control but doesn’t react quickly to use his seven-foot-three wingspan to contest shots effectively, both on the perimeter and guarding on the ball. He uses his strength to contain face-up drives by opposing big man of a similar frame through contact and holding his ground on the post but can’t play above the rim as a shot blocker.
His most significant contribution is on the glass. Diogu looks and is able to box out bigger players, collecting 27.4% of opponents’ misses, which ranks him seventh in the CBA. That’s the main reason why the team allows 6.3 points per 100 possessions fewer with him at center rather than Li.
Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at realgm.com.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here and at BballBreakdown or at Upside & Motor, a couple of websites where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.