While most of the attention on the Lakers this draft season stem from them holding the #2 overall pick, the team also holds the #32 selection in the upcoming draft. With that, we will be having a series of posts on potential options for that selection. This installment looks at Maryland big man Diamond Stone.
Center, 6’10.5″, 254 lbs. Freshman, Maryland, 19 years old
23.1 minutes, 12.5 points, 56.8 field goal percentage, 76.1 free throw percentage, 0.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 1.6 blocks.
Big Board Rankings:
Draft Express – 30, CBS – 44, Sports Illustrated – 24, NBA.com — 21, ESPN (Chad Ford) — 32
One of the, if not the best names in the entire draft is Diamond Stone. The name belongs to a 19-year-old out of Maryland University. The 6’10 prospect came into college with huge expectations, but finds himself at the low end of the first round, to possible even early second round. For someone so young, he’s got a ton of weight on him and has a long wingspan of 7’3, which will really help him guard the center position in the NBA. While he’s a big dude, he’s also pretty quick on his feet, which can be really useful.
The young big man is gifted on the offensive side of the ball. In just 23 minutes, Stone put up 12.5 points on 56.8 shooting from the floor. What’s nice about Stone is that he can score in a couple ways — with his back to the basket due to his post moves, can face up, and even step out a little to hit a midrange. He was second in the Big Ten in two-point field goals made. He’s not entirely capable of hitting the midrange like an Al Horford, but he’s shown a lot of potential there with his soft touch and his free throw percentage. The hope would be that he becomes consistent enough that he can eventually start knocking down some threes.
Since Diamond Stone is so big, he was really good on the offensive boards. In his one year at Maryland, he averaged 2.2 in only 23 minutes a game. Per basketball-reference, he grabbed 12.4 percent of all available offensive boards when he was in the game, which put him at the third most in the Big Ten. He goes after his won shot, is quick enough to get by someone, and is also big enough create space and box guys out.
The offensive side shows a lot of potential, but he has a lot of work to do on the other end of the ball. The only strength Stone has on defense is his ability to guard one-on-one in the post, and that’s because of his size.
The biggest knock on Stone would be his willingness to pass the ball. He had just 15 assists in 35 games played. That’s 15 assists in 807 minutes of playing time. Compared to those 15 assists, Stone had 53 turnovers. Of all the time he had the ball, he turned it over 13 percent of the time which isn’t going to get it done. When he gets the ball, he sees only the rim. Just for fun, if the Lakers grabbed Stone and signed Hassan Whiteside in free agency, the ball would probably never come out of the post between those two.
The big guy will also struggle more in the post against older, stronger, and smarter guys. He was able to bully smaller college players, but once he goes against someone like Whiteside or Horford, he’s not going to be able to back them down the same.
Another area Stone needs to work on is his defensive rebounding. While he’s solid on the offensive side, he only averaged 3.3 defensive boards a game. He’s not a very good jumper, and he doesn’t really scrap after the ball. He ranks last out of all the top 100 centers on DraftExpress’ defensive rebounding per 40 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, Stone has to put a lot of time into his defense. He doesn’t try very hard and needs to get smarter on that end. Even though he only has about 13 percent body fat, he needs to turn some of that weigh into more muscle as well. The freshman did average 1.6 blocks per game, but he might have a harder time blocking shots in the pros because of his lack of a vertical.
Where he fits in with the Lakers:
I really like Diamond Stone, and that’s not just because of the name. He has a lot of potential, but he has to harness his ability. The hope would be that he is able to expand on his offensive skill set. It’d be huge for him to be able to step out behind the three point arc, but he also needs to learn how to pass the ball. Luke Walton could possible play a big factor into fixing this problem. He can also turn into an average defender if he puts more effort into that side of the ball, but he also needs to get his defensive IQ up. Going into a locker room with a lot of smart coaches can really help him.
As you can tell from our profiles on Stephen Zimmerman and Chinanu Onuaku, the Lakers will be in need of a big this offseason. Diamond Stone won’t play a lot of minutes to start with, but his fit with Randle and Nance could be ideal if he starts hitting jump-shots on a consistent basis. He has the tools and the touch, it’s only a matter of repetition with him. He would be more ideal if he was an inch or two taller, but his wingspan helps make up for it. Get smarter on D, work on a jump-shot, pass better, and take better care of the ball, and turn some of the fat in muscle is easy, right?