Name: Diamond Stone
Key Stats: 1.4 points per game, 0.7 rebounds per game, 3.4 minutes per game in 7 games played in the NBA.
16.2 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 49/37 shooting in 21.7 minutes per game, 13 games played between the Santa Cruz Warriors and Salt Lake City Stars of the D-League.
Years in NBA: 1
2016-2017 Salary: $543,471: rookie minimum
Future Contract Status: $1,312,611 for 2017-2018, no further years on contract
Summary: Diamond Stone was selected with the 40th pick of the draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. The Clippers acquired him via a draft night trade: they moved down from 33 to snag 39 and 40, selecting Stone and French point guard David Michineau. Stone barely played in the NBA, seeing a mere 24 minutes of action. As such, it’s difficult to tell what the big man’s future in the NBA might be. Diamond did play quite well in limited D-League action, but that’s not a great indicator of long-term NBA success.
Strengths: Diamond is a good scorer in the post who also showed some ability to hit three pointers, albeit in a tiny sample size in the D-League. He’s very smooth offensively, and should be able to score in the NBA at a solid enough level if given minutes. The reason he didn’t play more in the NBA had to do with a minutes crunch: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Mo Speights had the top three big spots locked up, and Brandon Bass got most of what was left. Stone needed to refine his game in the D-League, especially on defense, and he definitely improved as the year went on. Hopefully his rebounding will translate to the NBA when he starts getting minutes there. He had touch on his shot in college, and those flashes of three-point shooting bode well for his move to the perimeter on offense. Stone could end up being a valuable role player down the line.
Weaknesses: Stone isn’t a great passer out of the post, a skill that is incredibly necessary for post players in today’s NBA. He’s also not super athletic, which limits his upside on both ends. Diamond is never going to be a tremendous pick and roll player—he doesn’t have the explosiveness to power through and above opponents consistently. On defense, he’s not quick enough or a great enough leaper to be a dominant rim protector. Even if his defensive instincts pick up, he probably won’t ever be much above average on that side of the ball.
Future with Clippers: Diamond only has one guaranteed year left with the Clippers. I would be pretty surprised to see him traded before next year, so he will have one year to play for his future with the Clips (and in the NBA in general). With Mo and Bass potentially moving on (and potentially Blake), there should be more minutes available for Stone next season. He will compete with fellow rookie Brice Johnson and others for minutes, but I suspect he gets at least a shot at rotation minutes in 2017-2018.