In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 34 picks.
Today’s edition breaks down Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo.
When discussing prospects in the 2018 class with an abundance of tools, Hamidou Diallo’s name comes to mind almost immediately. The Kentucky freshman stands 6’5 and weighs in at 200 pounds. His wingspan is fantastic at 7’0 and, at only 19 years old, most scouts expect him to fill out to a more considerable degree.
With that said, Diallo didn’t necessarily blow anyone away for the Wildcats this season. All told, he pretty solid across the board, averaging 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 43 percent overall from the floor, but considering the hype, his performance was widely seen as a disappointment.
Diallo is originally from Connecticut and was an early enrolee at Kentucky in January of 2017. He did not play in the 2016-17 season but did compete in practice while learning the system of Coach Calipari. Many believed he would enter the 2017 NBA Draft as a likely first-round selection but, after passing on that opportunity, Diallo never produced any massive offensive outburst during the 2017-18 season.
Lets take a look at some of Diallo’s strengths and weaknesses.
As mentioned before, Diallo has tools to spare with plus-plus athleticism, plus speed and length to match up at the NBA level. He is especially dangerous in transition where he can play above the rim or push the ball himself and make quality reads on the run to set up his teammates. His vision is also better than his assist numbers show.
With a 44” vertical, Diallo enjoys putting on a show at the rim and can beat his man off the dribble quite often. He may play somewhat haphazardly at a breakneck pace but he is one of the most exciting players to watch in general when he kicks things into high gear.
He can hold his own on defense against like-sized players, and has shown flashes of elite instincts on that end of the floor. A strong lower body helps him hold strong in the post while his length allows him to block shots at the rim as well. His plus speed hides many of his mistakes made.
I would say most of Diallo’s weaknesses could be summed up into the fact that he is still just very raw. Diallo fouls quite a bit and can sometimes get tunnel vision when the ball is in his hands but, otherwise, his overall profile offensively is reasonable.
Defensively, Diallo is solid most of the time but veteran players will be able to take advantage of him with crafty head fakes and other moves. He should learn over time but, as of right now, he will come into the NBA as below-average on that end of the floor due to his inexperience.
His three point jumper was decent at 34 percent but could still use some improvement although it is not his only means of scoring. His shot in general has a strong foundation but will need a couple more tweaks to smooth out the inconsistencies. Given his size, he will absolutely need to improve his shooting and that is something to monitor.
Overall, Diallo is a very polarizing prospect who will definitely come off the board at some point in the 2018 NBA Draft, though perhaps not as high as he originally planned. As I keep saying, his toolbox is loaded and if he ever puts everything together the sky is the limit for him.
If he is still around at the No. 30 or No. 34 picks, he would potentially be a quality pickup for Atlanta, especially through the prism of a rebuilding team seeking upside. The Hawks can always use more wing help and he could certainly challenge for a starting role in a post-Bazemore world if he develops on schedule.
Projection: Late first-early second and possibly mid second. Diallo’s combine will definitely hold major weight in where he falls as right now scouts are probably eager to see more of him since his overall performance was at least partially stunted by the glut of other top prospects that Kentucky has on their roster.