With their first pick in the second round, the Cleveland Cavaliers have picked Khalifa Diop, a 20-year-old 6’11” center from Senegal who is currently playing in Spain. He has been with Gran Canaria since 2019. During the 2020-21 season, he was named the ACB All-Young Players team.
In addition to his pro career, Diop plays for the Senegalese national team. Notably, in games last summer, he played against Team USA’s U19 team in the FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup. In that tournament, he averaged 14 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Against Team USA, he scored 20 points.
Here’s some of his highlights from last season with Gran Canaria:
Diop feels like a developmental pick. He’s playing on arguably the second-best league in the world outside of the NBA, but it’ll still be a leap to the NBA. It’s also possible, and perhaps likely, that he’ll stay overseas to start as the Cavs play the long-game with him. If he were to come over immediately, he seems likely to play with the Cleveland Charge in the G League.
There’s not a need for a center on the roster right now with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley on the roster. But long-term, there’s upside here with his frame and ability to run the floor.