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.
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.
Where does everyone else stand on ‘Khouba?