Saturday, May 12, 2007

Player Report Card: Yakhouba Diawara

(Boulder-CO) Back at it again with another Player Report Card and today’s microscope is pointed at rookie Yakhouba Diawara. Going into this season I really liked everything that was being said about Yakhouba. All reports were that he was an excellent defender, (which he is), a hell of a hustler, (which he is), and a strong presence on the boards, (which he is not). Nevertheless, I still think there is some polishing to do with this rookie and Denver would be wise to keep him around for awhile.

For starters, Yakhouba played in 64 games, including 19 starts, for the Nuggets. In the first month of the season Diawara averaged a respectable 5.3 points, one assist, and 1.7 rebounds, and followed up November’s performance by raising his digits to 5.7 points, 1.2 assists, and 2.9 rebounds in December. At this point all things looked to be right on schedule for the Yak, but with the trades of Andre Miller for Allen Iverson and Earl Boykins for Steve Blake, Diawara was going to have his minutes cut substantially and his numbers were going to dip considerably before he became an almost non-existent member of this team.

Why you might ask? Well, seeing how Allen Iverson plays 40-plus minutes a night, Steve Blake was an upgrade on defense from Earl Boykins, and J.R. Smith learning a couple of fundamentals here and there all contributed to Diawara’s added pine time. And over the course of the season, the Yak’s offensive drawbacks didn’t help his case for more minutes either.

Diawara shot a dismal 49-170, (28%), from downtown, 100-292, (34%) from the field, and 35-53, (66%), from the free-throw line on the season. But what I still feel was the most disappointing aspect of Diawara’s game was his rebounding. He was a post player at the University of Pepperdine and I expected the 6’7”/230lb Yak to be able to hit the boards a lot harder than he did. However, I will mention that he did have one spectacular game on January 2nd, 2007 when he exploded for a career-high with 23 points and six rebounds against the 76ers.

But as the season went on, Diawara’s minutes continued to be allocated to others off the Denver bench and soon he would become a rare sight. He didn’t play in three games in February, seven games in March, six games in April, and only snuck in for one minute of game five against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs.

Poor Yakhouba.

However, please don’t feel too bad for him. Yakhouba earned $412,718 in salary for 2007.

The question now becomes whether or not the Nuggets should resign the Yak for another year. His contract is low enough to justify keeping him at the end of the bench for nights when the opposing team’s best player happens to be a guard, but his offense is, shall we say, lacking that NBA level refinement. On the one hand I think that if Yakhouba can be our eleventh or twelfth man than the Nuggets have done a pretty good job of keeping a guy that has some very specialized skills, but on the other, part of me says that there has to be another player out there who can bring a more well-rounded game to the end of our bench. Ultimately, specialists are great, but when you don’t require their services… they are especially easy to forget about.
Diawara finished 2006-07 with averages of 4.4 points, .9 of an assist, and 1.7 rebounds.

Where does everyone else stand on ‘Khouba?


ThaAnswer said...

What I remember the most was the stretch of games where YD just jacked up threes....and jacked more up..then some more...and clunked the hell out of nearly all of them.

However I think he's a good defender and as his game grows could become a great defender. And you know what, if you can get a great defender. Keep Him

Jason said...

Ok, here is the #1 issue with Diawara: He lacks confidence. That seems to be the same disease that affects DerMarr Johnson. In some ways, I consider them equal. Both have strong potential, but unless they can be confident in themselves to go out and get the job done, it will be hard for them to find playing time.

Unfortunately, a coach like George Karl is not exactly good with instilling confidence in young players. He is impatient (for right or wrong) and typically has a much shorter leash with young players then with his veterans, even if they are making the same silly mistakes. So...Diawara must bring a more confident game if he ever expects to make it in this league, or especially playing for coach Karl.

That is why a guy like JR Smith is exciting to. Disciplined he is not, but his confidence is sky high which really can help a player to distinguish himself from the crowd. JR's problem though, is balancing that fine line of confidence vs. cockiness!

But as far as Diawara, I think if we can upgrade that position, we should. If Diawara is an 11th or 12th man, so be it, but I truly feel the Nuggets MUST do something to bring in another perimeter player who can hit shots and defend. Raja Bell would be a dream on this team!!!