Keita Bates-Diop to redefine game in Phoenix after ‘career reset’ with Spurs

Jul 6, 2023, 5:03 PM | Updated: Jul 7, 2023, 9:50 am

Kevin Durant and Keita Bates-Diop...

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot over Keita Bates-Diop #31 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game at Footprint Center on April 04, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns beat the Spurs 115-94. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns made a handful of moves in the first week of free agency aiming to bring in more depth around the newest super team’s Big 3.

Forward Keita Bates-Diop is one of the newest additions that adds size (6-foot-8), strength (229 pounds) and consistent 3-point shooting (39.4% from deep last year).

Bates-Diop has had stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and most recently, a three-year stretch with the San Antonio Spurs during his five NBA seasons. But coming to Phoenix to play alongside Devin Booker and Kevin Durant was something he called a “no-brainer.”

“It happened very quickly,” Bates-Diop told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday. “My agent called me, we got the news and I made an immediate decision I knew I couldn’t pass up.

“This is a championship-caliber team and when they talked to me, they made me feel like I can help them take that next step into winning a championship. It was a no-brainer after that.”

Bates-Diop played in 67 games last season and averaged 9.7 points (career high) and 3.7 rebounds over 21.7 minutes per game with San Antonio. He also started a career-high 42 games.

The forward was originally drafted in the second round by the Timberwolves out of Ohio State where he was one of the best players in college basketball his senior year.

He briefly lost his role in the NBA from 2019-21, playing in just 67 games across the two years before finding his way to the Spurs.

Bates-Diop credited San Antonio for helping unlock the best version of his game and giving his career a reset it needed.

“I talk to people all the time now that I would be remised if I didn’t mention how influential they were in resetting my career,” Bates-Diop said.

“That organization has won a lot of games and championships, and they still run it like that. I’m hoping to bring everything I learned over there, over here as well.”

Bates-Diop played in 30 games and averaged 8.2 minutes in his first year with the Spurs, both career lows.

Over each of the next two seasons, he showed year-to-year improvement in points, assists, 3-point percentage and free throw shooting.

With the Suns’ super star-heavy roster, it is unknown the amount of minutes he may get after averaging over 20 last year, but his redefined game fits in with exactly what Phoenix was looking for this offseason.

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