Diamond Stone came to Maryland as one of the most heralded recruits in program history, ranking as the sixth best recruit in the Class of 2015, according to 247 Sports. Fans expected Stone to be a one-and-done type of player and many assumed Stone would be a lottery pick in this year's draft.
Fans were right, Stone opted for the NBA Draft after just one year as a Terrapin, a season that resulted in a third-team All Big Ten selection, but his stock as a pro took a hit as the season progressed. Once seen as a sure fire lottery pick, the 6-foot-10 center is seen as a fringe first rounder at this point, but there is always room for skilled big men in the NBA.
At just 19-years-old, Stone's biggest strengths as a pro are highlighted on offense, primarily when he has his back to the basket and is able to showcase his nimble footwork. Stone is a strong kid, able to back down his college sized opponents with relative ease. He has a solid hook shot with either hand, although he prefers his left hand to his right. Stone also showcases a reliable jumper out to around eighteen feet. Where Stone shines though is when he is isolated in the post. He has an arsenal of post moves that allow him to be an effective scorer down low.
Where Stone's stock takes a hit is in his defense and willingness to create for his teammates. In a league like the NBA where defensive versatility is so coveted, Stone falls short. He is strictly a five on both sides of the ball and doesn't particularly guard his position well. Stone lacks an incessant competitive steak and too often takes defensive plays off. He struggles in the pick and roll, often failing to hedge quick enough on the screen to make an impact. He also struggles with NBA size. Watch this video against A.J. Hammons of Purdue. Stone has his moments, but is often bothered by Hammons reach or simply not physical enough to bother Hammons on either end of the floor.
Stone's ability to pass out of the post and create for his teammates is another red flag dragging down his stock. According to DraftExpress, Stone averaged 0.7 assists per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) which ranked third to worst in among their top 100 prospects and had just a 4.1% assist percentage, which ranked fifth to last. His rebounding rate is also a concern at just 6.1 a game per 40 minutes. Stone will not be a focal point of any offense in the NBA any time soon. He is going to need to find a way to contribute in other ways than just his scoring. Rebounding is usually one skill that translates to the next level, whether it a plus or not and Stone is going to have to show NBA teams that there is another level to his rebounding abilities.
Despite his shortcomings, Stone is still a very skilled big man. His size and touch on the offensive end don't come around all that often. His 7-foot 3 wingspan helps make up for his lack of defensive prowess and there is certainly room for improvement on that end that NBA coaching may sure up. He isn't the lottery pick many thought he was coming out of high school, but there is surely an NBA team that will take a chance on Stone in the later part of the first round or early part of the second.
Stone will take a bit of developing, but if all turns out well, he could very well be a solid rotation big man for years to come.