Weight: 198 lbs
Stats: 10 points, 3.6 rebounds
Athleticism: John Calipari calls Diallo one of the best athletes in this draft. After posting record combine numbers last summer, Diallo reportedly had late first-round interest solely based on his athleticism. He certainly showcased his athletic ability last Fall at Kentucky and it could possibly be enough to earn a first round bid.
Work Ethic: Calipari also vouched for Diallo in this department. Despite his up and down struggles throughout the season, Diallo’s playing time was never altered due to his work ethic in practice and his will to work on his game “after hours.” A motor like that could take him a long way in the professional league.
Like Allen in his younger days, Diallo is raw on offense with high athleticism and an above-average defender. While Allen’s offensive game never really improved, he made a living in the NBA by defensively locking down the best night in and night out. Diallo could model his game after Allen and find a home in the NBA.
Shumpert is a lot like Allen, however he’s not quite the defender and instead had a bit better outside shot. Shumpert even had a few year stretch where he was a quality player on a championship-contending team. Modeling Shumpert’s game is more ideal for Diallo by simply considering the way the NBA is played today. Outside shooting is almost a necessity, turning players like Allen and traditional centers in to dinosaurs. If Diallo can find an outside shot, the rest should come easy.
Diallo arguably had more hype than anyone other Wildcat coming in to the season. Having already spent a year with the team as a redshirt freshman, he’d gotten a close look at Calipari’s system as well as what he expects from his players.
Hami had a decent start to the year, scoring 18, 16 and 14 points in the team’s first three games. While he took a dip by falling short of double digits for the next three, he managed to climb back to the top to score 19, 19, 23, 20, 18 and 14 straight.
Thereafter, though, it was pretty much a rollercoaster for Diallo. He even had an eight game stretch where he averaged just over five points per game.
However, Diallo never gave up as he brought it against Buffalo in the NCAA tournament. Hami played 35 minutes to score 22 points on 9-12 shooting. He set the tone on offense for the Cats as well on defense. Luckily, the game was played on one of the biggest national stages where many scouts were paying close attention.
One game doesn’t decide your draft fate, but Diallo’s outburst certainly redirected the attention to himself.
As we hit draft week, only time will tell as far as which team decides to take a gamble on Diallo. One thing is for certain: he works hard and doesn’t mind putting in the extra hours. It will be interesting to see how he plays in the NBA’s Summer League.
Atlanta Hawks, 30th Overall
The Hawks are in full rebuild mode and with a late first round pick could easily take a gamble on Diallo with hopes of striking gold. Their backcourt is a work in progress with Kent Bazemore drastically overpaid and Dennis Schroder the only player locked up for at least two more years. Diallo could work his way through their summer league and training camp to earn a role for the upcoming season. On a team willing to take chances, Diallo would be in the best spot possible.
Memphis Grizzlies, 32nd Overall
Here Diallo falls out of the first round but to a team that should be in playoff contention next season. Despite an atrocious effort this year, the Grizzlies were riddled with injuries to their two all-stars: Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Let it be noted that the Grizzlies signed Tony Allen a few years ago and could see the same potential in Diallo. On an older roster, Diallo could come in and learn behind quality veterans and focus on crafting his game before playing heavy minutes.
Dallas Mavericks, 33rd Overall
The Mavericks are handcuffed to the inefficient longevity of Dirk Nowitzki. However after signing Harrison Barnes to a monster deal two summers ago and drafting starting point guard Dennis Smith last summer, they’re anxious to begin their rebuild.
Assuming they take a potential star big man with their early lottery pick, going with Diallo early in the second round would be a quality choice. He and Smith would also combine for arguably the league’s most athletic backcourt. Wesley Matthews is still under contract for another season, allowing Diallo to learn from a starting two-way shooting guard before he potentially takes the starting role.
I’d love to see Diallo in Dallas or Memphis. However, in such a weak draft, I just can’t see him falling out of the first round. While he showed flashes of offense last season, I believe he’ll be taken by the Hawks based off of pure athleticism and the fact that he is a high risk-high reward selection where any player is nearly a gamble.
If he brings his work ethic with him, Diallo should be able to drive his way to a career in the Association.