The Oklahoma City Thunder have been stockpiling assets for the last few seasons. Being hesitant to keep veterans, the Thunder have expressed their interest to retain former Kentucky Wildcats guard Hamidou Diallo.
The team has officially exercised their team option on him. He’ll not yet have his shot at free agency, as the Thunder will pay him $1.66 million for the final year of his rookie contract, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports.
Diallo was the 45th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and while he’s known around league circles as a high-flyer, he’s shown to do much more than just jump out of the gym.
This past season, on a playoff-making Thunder franchise, Diallo averaged 6.9 points per game, almost double what his rookie season average was. He also almost doubled his rebounds per game and more than doubled his assists and steals per game.
While not of it was notable given his mere 19.5 minutes of playing time, Diallo clearly has the potential to be a consistent role player at the sport’s highest level. At just 22, the 6-foot-5 small forward improved his three-point shooting almost 12 percent, arguably the most impressive feat of his second season in the NBA.
With Chris Paul out and the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the sole leader of the franchise, the Thunder will need Diallo to step up more as a scorer. It’ll be a contract year, and one which he needs to thrive in if he wants to continue his career in the NBA.
Diallo has all the tools it takes to get to the top, and the Thunder are giving him a chance to prove he can do it by bringing him back and hopefully giving him an extended role within the team.