At the end of the 2005–06 NBA season, Diaw was awarded the Most Improved Player trophy by garnering 80 first-place votes in balloting by 124 sports writers and sportscasters. He received 489 overall points.
In 2000, he won the European Junior Championship with the French National Team. He won a slam dunk contest in France when he was selected to play in the France Pro-A league's All-Star game in 2002. He was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, twenty-first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft where he played for two seasons before being traded in the offseason of 2005 with two future first round picks to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Joe Johnson. He had won the bronze medal at the European Championship with the French National Team in 2005.
In Phoenix, Diaw blossomed into an all-round player, playing any position from center to point guard and garnered the nickname "3D" because of his multidimensional play (his motto being "drive, dish, defend") and the combination of his number (3) and last name. Diaw averaged 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.05 blocks per game on .526 field goal percentage and 73.1% from the free throw line in the 2005–06 season for the Phoenix Suns, playing mostly small forward and then center in absence of the injured big men Amar'e Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas.
During the 2006 NBA playoffs as the Suns' starting center, Diaw averaged 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game on .526 field goal percentage and 76% at the free throw line in 3 rounds of the playoffs. In Game 1 of the 2006 Western Conference Finals against the Mavericks, Diaw scored a career-high 34 points, including the game-winning 7-foot turnaround jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation, to help his Suns to a 121–118 victory.
Diaw recorded his first career triple-double on January 31, 2006 when his Suns defeated the Philadelphia 76ers at Philadelphia, 123–99. Diaw had 14 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds, as well as a block and zero turnovers in 39 minutes. He is the first French NBA player ever to record a triple-double. He recorded his second career triple-double shortly afterwards on March 5, 2006 when his Suns defeated the Dallas Mavericks at Dallas, 115–107. On April 14, 2006, Diaw recorded his third career triple-double when the Suns suffered a loss to the Golden State Warriors, 110–102. Diaw had 11 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high 16 assists, while adding three blocks and two steals in 42 minutes. Two days later, Diaw recorded his fourth career triple-double against the Los Angeles Lakers as his Suns lost 109–89. On December 15, 2006, Diaw recorded his fifth career triple-double in a victory against the Golden State Warriors.
In July 2006 Diaw was named captain of the French national team. Diaw led the French team in the 2006 FIBA World Championship with 107 points and 22 assists in 9 games.
In the 2008 NBA Playoffs, 1st Round, Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs, even though he fouled out in the game, Diaw recorded almost another triple double with is 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists in 44:51 minutes.
Diaw saw a reduced role with the Suns after the 2005–06 season with the return of Amar'e Stoudemire and largely played in a reserve role, failing to average double-digit points per game for the next two seasons. On December 10, 2008, Diaw, along with Raja Bell and Sean Singletary, was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley in a move by the Suns to retool their roster. Diaw scored the franchise's first playoff points.
In September 2011, during the 2011 NBA lockout, Diaw signed with JSA Bordeaux of the French Second Division.
On March 21, 2012, Diaw was waived by the Bobcats. He then signed with the San Antonio Spurs.
On July 12, 2012, Diaw re-signed with the Spurs on a 2 year, $9.2 million dollar contract.
NBA career transactions
- June 26, 2003: Drafted 21st overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2003 NBA Draft.
- August 19, 2005: Traded by Atlanta along with two future first-round draft picks to the Phoenix Suns for Joe Johnson.
- December 10, 2008: Traded by Phoenix along with Raja Bell and Sean Singletary to the Charlotte Bobcats for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a future second-round draft pick.
- March 21, 2012: Waived by the Bobcats.
- March 23, 2012: Signed by the San Antonio Spurs.
- July 12, 2012: Re-signed by the Spurs.
At 6'8" and 230 lbs, Diaw is a natural small forward. However, his passing skills and capability to score inside have earned him a reputation of being capable of playing all positions on the floor well. This is best seen in the 2005–06 season, during which Diaw started as a bench player, then convincingly subbed as a point guard when starting playmaker Steve Nash (that season's MVP) was injured, then started as a small forward and was finally moved to center when all three Suns pivots got injured, posting impressive stats of 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the playoffs despite playing out of position. His breakout season (13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game) was crowned with the Most Improved Player Award. He is lauded for his unselfish, but assertive play, and his versatility also makes him a triple-double threat: as of June 2012, he has recorded six of them.
Family and personal life
His 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) mother Élisabeth Riffiod is regarded as one of the best centers in French women's basketball history, while his father Issa Diaw was a Senegalese high jump champion. He also has a half brother, Papa Saliou "Paco" Diaw, who was a guard at Georgia Tech, but transferred to Lee University, a small NAIA school in the Southern States Athletic Conference. His other brother, Martin Diaw, played basketball for Division II's California University of Pennsylvania.
Diaw and fellow French NBA star and Spurs teammate Tony Parker are long-time friends and former roommates. Diaw was the best man in Tony Parker's wedding to actress Eva Longoria.
In 2005, Diaw established a non-profit foundation, Babac'Ards, to organize sports activities for Senegalese youth and aid "developmental education".
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- Points: 31 @ Minnesota 12/26/05
- Rebounds: 16 2 times
- Assists: 16 @ Golden State 04/14/06
- Steals: 4 7 times
- Blocks: 7 vs. Washington 02/11/09