Traditionally, the top players in the draft are invited to combine in order for teams to gather measurables (weight, height, wingspan, etc...) but they do not have to play if they don’t want to play. The thought is that players like Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox are already in the lottery so playing in front of GM’s and having a bad performance would do nothing but hurt their stock.
On the flip side, players like Isaiah Briscoe were invited to the combine but they have to play no matter what. Hamidou Diallo’s initial invite was the same one that Briscoe received: you can come but you have to play. Later, the invite was changed to the same invite that Fox and Monk received: you can come but you don’t have to play you can just get measured.
The latter invite was better for Diallo because recently he hasn’t played in anything other than practices at UK. If he were to play and stink it up, then NBA teams would pass. But if he came to the draft just to be measured, there’s a chance that NBA teams may take a chance based on his physical attributes alone.
From the Cats Pause:
Diallo will be joined by teammate Isaiah Briscoe in the five-on-five portion of the combine.
Malik Monk will skip the combine altogether while De'Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo will go through the testing and interview process but not play five-on-five. Isaac Humphries has yet to receive an invite.
Currently, Diallo is projected as an early second round pick by both Draft Express and Chad Ford of ESPN.
So what does this mean? This is strictly my opinion, but Diallo is playing in order to impress teams enough that they tell him he is a first round draft pick. His wingspan and build are NBA ready right now but his play is a giant question mark. If Diallo can go in and impress GMs by competing with the likes of Briscoe, Dillon Brooks, Frank Jackson, and Melo Trimble, among others, then he is as good as gone.
This leaves UK fans in a conundrum. There will be a section of the fan base rooting for Diallo to do well do add another Kentucky name to the NBA and a section of the fan base rooting for him to do poorly so he is a sure thing to come back to Kentucky. It’s quite the predicament.
Despite the report from his prep-school coach that he is 90% sure Diallo is coming back to UK, I think this latest development tells me he is going to take his best shot to go pro. My position is that he comes back to UK but this is no longer just testing the waters.