ATLANTA – Keita Bates-Diop made his best case on Saturday that the Timberwolves organization shouldn’t forget about him.

With several rotation players out, Bates-Diop scored 22 points. Three of those players who were out Saturday were back on Monday – Robert Covington, Josh Okogie and Treveon Graham.

But Bates-Diop, the second year player out of Ohio State, still played nearly 24 minutes in the Wolves’ 125-113 victory. And he was still productive. Bates-Diop had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting to go with five rebounds and a steal.

He was so effective that coach Ryan Saunders had him in with the group that closed out the victory.

“He’s provided great minutes and he’s not the first guy and I’m sure he’s not the last guy who continues to do that,” Saunders said. “That’s just a big credit to this locker room.”

Saunders likes the versatility Bates-Diop has, the way he is able to guard multiple positions and the instincts he has a cerebral player.

“As a coach you want guys to, I guess you can say, force your hand,” Saunders said. “So, Keita has given us a big lift and his ability to play the four and the three, he puts the ball on the floor like a three in the open court at times. He can stretch the floor like a four. He’s got length where he can actually protect the rim a little bit when there’s penetration in the paint.”

Added Bates-Diop: “I pride myself on that a lot. That’s kind of my game. I’m not a just a shooter, not just a driver. I’m a little bit of everything.”

After Saturday’s game Bates-Diop was surprised to see he had attempted 10 threes. That, according to him, was too many.

“I don’t know about 10 threes per game,” Bates-Diop joked at shootaround Monday. “It’s definitely improved. I feel more confident in it.”

He only took four on Monday and made two.

“That’s a little more in my range,” he said.

Bates-Diop wasn’t the first Wolves player called up from Iowa this season, but he has made the biggest impact over the last two games. Even though he is competing with some of his teammates in Iowa for time on the main roster, he said there is still a lot of camaraderie among the group.

“It’s actually a good dynamic,” Bates-Diop said. “We’re all competitive. Nothing is given. Everything is earned up here anyway.”

And he is earning more looks off the bench in the NBA. 

 

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