NBA: Last Chance Paying Off For Diogu

By Zack Cimini

Dominating on a college level as an athlete with size, tends to be misleading when looking for that on the professional level. Ike Diogu was a force in his Pac-10 days at Arizona State, and one of the conferences leaders. His stock seemed to be sky high, and sure enough he was drafted as an elite player, ninth overall by the Golden State Warriors.

Partly fault the system of the Warriors for Diogu’s poor performances. He just couldn’t keep pace with the ragged system Don Nelson was running. Soon he was waddling on the bench, and becoming one of Donnie’s dog house buried players. After two poor years there, he was dealt with Mike Dunleavy in a package to Indiana. Once again, he just didn’t get involved with the team from a chemistry standpoint.

Then the whirlwind of the inevitable began. A player on the cusp of being exited permanently out of the NBA, holding on by bouncing around. Diogu was on the rosters of four different teams seeing little to no minutes with all, before a knee injury forced him to miss the complete 2010 season.

He received a training camp invite this year to the Detroit Pistons which did not pan out. It looked like Diogu would be heading his way overseas to earn his living. Then the injuries piled up for the LA Clippers. Chris Kaman and Craig Smith both went down and the Clippers had to search quickly for a big man to fill the void.

The bulk of the minutes just slid over to DeAndre Jordan. A rookie unpolished big man that has done a fabulous job in his first year. Ike was signed to spell Jordan on an unguaranteed contract. Over the past five to seven games his minutes have increased because of his play. Rejuvenated to not be forced overseas and realizing this was likely his last chance, he has given A plus effort on the court.

Maybe that’s what it took for Diogu. His back against the wall, and no longer living off his initial rookie guaranteed contract of 2005. He is only 27, and as long as he knee can hold up, he can play in the NBA for quite awhile. He just needs to exert constant effort nightly to prevent himself from getting lost in the shuffle. No matter what happens when the Clippers big men get healthy, Diogu has shown enough for other teams to sign him to a guaranteed deal.

Thus far in February’s games, Diogu is getting near 20 minutes a game. Averaging 11 points and 5.5 rebounds per. If he can add some shot blocks to his resume, he’d be worth a deep flyer in rotisserie leagues. Especially considering Kaman’s consistent injury issues, and Smith out with a herniated disc.


You must be logged in to post a comment.