Basketball: NZ Breakers' new signing Ousmane Dieng the 'next Kevin Durant' predicts chief executive Matt Walsh

NZ Breakers' acquisition of French wonderkid Ousmane Dieng could give Kiwi fans the chance to watch a future NBA great in the flesh, chief executive Matt Walsh says.

Dieng, 18, has opted to spend the 2021/22 season playing for the ANBL's only Kiwi side, spurning offers from the American college system, the NBA's development G-League, and professional sides in Europe.

Highly regarded as a future first round NBA draft pick, Walsh compares Dieng to some of the NBA's biggest names, confident that the youngster will be a star of the future.

"He's a great kid," Walsh tells Newshub.

"It's been a pleasure - kind of I guess recruiting is the right word, these last few months or so.

"He's a special talent. Physically, he's 6-foot-9, seven foot wingspan, plays one through four, [has a] special feel for the game, can shoot it.

"He's a guy that, In NBA terms, every team is looking for. Everyone wants the next Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, who has the size and that skill set.

"For us to get a potential top 10 draft pick in next year's draft is pretty exciting."

Dieng doesn't need to look far for inspiration either. The 18-year-old follows in the footsteps of RJ Hampton, who spent a season with the Breakers before declaring for the NBA draft.

And while he took his time to settle after being traded from Denver Nuggets to Orlando Magic, 20-year-old Hampton has started to find his feet in the NBA - standing out for his side even as they failed to reach the Eastern Conference finals.

Walsh adds that he and the Breakers are confident that their experience with Hampton will only benefit Dieng.

"It certainly helps that we've been through this process. That was one of the things we told Ousmane, his representatives and family.

"While we learned a lot, we also feel like we did a lot right with RJ. We know that his family's coming to live in the best place in the world in New Zealand, they're going to absolutely love their experience.

"In terms of his development, I think watching the success of RJ, especially the second half of the season, being player of the month in the NBA in May for the rookies, it certainly helps.

"We've become a destination for players who want to develop for the NBA. There's no mistake about ii - we beat out the G-League Ignite, which was created to prevent us getting guys like this.

"Every college in the States would have taken Ousmane, and teams from all over Europe were making offers.

"This is a pretty big coup for the club."

Dieng joins an already impressive roster for the Breakers. Even with the disappointment of the COVID-19 affected season, the Breakers are sitting as a sleeping giant for the new season when it begins in October.

Sydney Kings coach Adam Forde labelled the Breakers as a "top four team" in any other year, and Walsh can't hide his excitement when talking about what the new season will bring.

"We're very fortunate that some of our key guys are already locked under contract. Finn Delany, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Rasmus Bach and some of the guys we have [we're] looking to bring back.

"The biggest thing for us is stability, and especially in the year [where] we had so much instability, we want to bring as many guys back as we can.

"Breakers fans can look forward to some exciting signings. We'll go out and sign our imports, we've got team options with Levi Randolph and Colton [Iverson]. 

"We'll be in discussions with all those guys. It's exciting that when you have a year that doesn't go as planned, that we get to turn around and play again in October.

The only uncertainty lies with the future of Tai Webster, off-contract at the end of this season. But Walsh is confident that the younger of the Webster brothers will be in a Breakers singlet for campaigns to come.

"We've been in conversations with his representatives. He obviously had a fantastic year. 

"We want Tai back. He's a star in our league, not only on the court, off the court he's got the look.

"He knows that, his representatives know that. I feel pretty confident that we'll be able to get something done."