Moussa Diabate looks up past the player against him with the ball in his hands.
Moussa Diabate was drafted with the 43d pick. Anna Fuder/Daily.  Buy this photo.

After making a bold move by remaining in the NBA Draft, Moussa Diabate’s risk paid off. 

Just 11 picks after fellow freshman forward Caleb Houstan was selected by the Orlando Magic, Diabate heard his name called by the Los Angeles Clippers, making him the second Wolverine to be picked in the 2022 NBA Draft.

While Houstan was rumored to be a one-and-done player throughout his freshman season, many assumed that Diabate would return for his sophomore year after a campaign that showed plenty of potential.

But on April 25, Diabate entered his name in the draft, and five weeks later he reinforced his decision by forgoing his collegiate eligibility and remaining in the NBA Draft.

Up until Thursday night, Diabate’s selection in the draft seemed unpredictable. His raw talent and potential warranted attention, but he also displayed a need for growth in those skills before competing at the professional level. Whether he would be drafted or not was a question mark.

Media attention echoed that sentiment, and leading up to the draft, many credible mock drafts omitted Diabate entirely. ESPN’s Jonathon Givony, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek all left Diabate’s name off of their final mock drafts leading up to Thursday.

But in the end, Diabate ended up fitting the needs of Los Angeles. His game includes some unpolished skills — notably on offense — and suffers from a lack of shooting experience, but he also brings athleticism and mobility that facilitate production at the rim. His rebounding abilities also make him a threat on both sides of the court, which likely factored into the Clippers’ decision to draft him. 

Equally important, Diabate’s physical attributes likely played a role in his selection. At 6-foot-10, Diabate impressed scouts at the NBA Combine, finishing first in lane agility, maximum vertical, standing vertical, three quarter sprint and shuttle run among all centers who participated in the combine. The impressive numbers, as well as Diabate’s ability to match up with both forwards and centers, make him an intriguing prospect — and clearly Los Angeles, a team that needs depth at the center position, agreed.

With only one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Clippers selected Diabate with the hope of filling in their frontcourt.

Diabate’s freshman season at Michigan highlighted his athleticism and abilities. Now with Los Angeles, he will get a chance to develop those skills even further at the professional level.