The Atlanta Hawks don’t have a ton of “upside” players on the current roster. Young players like Taurean Prince, Dennis Schröder and even DeAndre Bembry are intriguing but there is a segment of the fan base that desperately wants to see Atlanta take a big swing (or two) in the 2017 NBA Draft.
If you are in that camp, Hamidou Diallo might be your guy and Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports projects the Hawks to select the 18-year-old shooting guard with the No. 19 overall pick.
The Thon Maker of this draft, in the sense that Diallo has not played in a collegiate game (his time at Kentucky was as a redshirt freshman for the second semester) yet has an outside shot at being picked in the lottery. If he were to stay for a full season at Kentucky, I bet he'd be a surefire top-10 pick, but you can't blame Diallo for taking the money now instead of taking on the risk of playing for free for another year.
The phrase "physical freak" was created for Diallo. He had the second-highest vertical leap ever recorded at the NBA combine at 44.5 inches, and his other measurable were nearly as impressive. You thinking what I'm thinking here? Yeah – he could become a Zach Lavine-type of NBA player. If, that is, he can improve his deficiencies, namely shooting.
As noted above, Diallo enrolled at Kentucky and could still return to school if he so desires. However, his stock is rising quickly after he tested in out-of-this-world fashion at the NBA Draft Combine and no one questions his athletic explosiveness.
In the same breath, Diallo is incredibly raw at this point and experts believe he needs work on both ball-handling and shooting in order to simply be a functional NBA player. This would be one of the least “safe” picks that the Hawks could make, especially on the perimeter, but Diallo also checks the box of adding an electrifying athlete to the roster that Atlanta does not currently deploy.
Project big men like Jarrett Allen, Justin Patton and Ike Anigbogu make a lot of sense if the Hawks are looking long-term with this pick but Hamidou Diallo is an entirely different ball game. What say you?