2018-19 Pelicans Season in Review: Cheick Diallo
by Jim Eichenhofer
Cheick Diallo
Age 22
NBA experience Three seasons (all with Pelicans)
Games played/started 64/1

Listen to Jim Eichenhofer & Daniel Sallerson's Review of Cheick Diallo's 2018-19 Performance

Season Overview

The development arc of NBA players doesn’t always follow a straight line. Sometimes there are steps forward and backward, with a few unpredictable twists and turns in between.

After seeing a dramatic increase in his role from his rookie season to Year 2 – including contributing to a Pelicans squad that reached the second round of the ’18 West playoffs – Diallo likely anticipated another leap in his third season. In some ways that happened – the native of Mali and relative newcomer to the sport became a more polished player, particularly offensively. In other ways, it didn’t – he began ’18-19 with 11 healthy DNPs prior to the calendar flipping to the new year. He would later appear in each of New Orleans’ final 34 contests, notching nine double-doubles from Feb. 4 through the end of the regular season.

“It was up and down a little bit,” Diallo said in his April 10 exit interview. “Sometimes I played, sometimes I did not. I just keep working hard every day, to where I feel like nobody can kill my dream. This year was a little bit different than last year… I was not really expecting it would be like that, but it’s the NBA. You just have to keep working every day.”

Diallo’s work ethic has been praised by Alvin Gentry and his staff, something that helped the Kansas product become one of the Pelicans’ most efficient players. Diallo shot a career-best 62.0 percent from the field, improving his accuracy from multiple areas of the floor away from the hoop. According to Basketball Reference, Diallo went from 45.2 percent to 53.2 on attempts from 3-10 feet, partly due to his reliable half-hook shots and a modified baseline semi-floater that always seemed to go in. He also was better from 10-16 feet (50.0 percent, compared to 48.4 in ’17-18) and from 16 feet out to the three-point line (44.4 percent, compared to just 26.3).

Diallo attributed some of that progress to slowing down offensively, which led to better decisions and shot selection.

“I was taking my time and not trying to rush anything,” he said. “(In ’17-18), I was rushing trying to score. This year, I took my time. If I was open, I shoot it. If not, just pass it and find the open man.”

For a pair of reasons, this offseason will be different from any of the previous three for Diallo: He is a restricted free agent for the first time, and he’s not expected to participate in summer league. After a one-year college career that consisted of scant minutes, his experience in Las Vegas was a key element of previous offseasons. He’s played in a total of 14 summer games, averaging 16.2 points and 9.6 rebounds.

“It’s going to be a long summer for me. I just want to let everything happen,” Diallo said of trying to be patient and let things unfold related to his future. “I’m not going to be there for summer league this year, but I want to be in the gym, working hard on my game every single day.”



Times Diallo reached double-digit scoring among the 15 games in which he logged 20-plus minutes. The two exceptions were eight-point outings at Sacramento and at Dallas.


Times Diallo reached double-digit rebounding among the 15 games in which logged 20-plus minutes.


Three-pointers made in Diallo’s three-year NBA career, with the one trey coming in an April 9 season finale vs. Golden State. Diallo went into '18-19 hoping to incorporate three-point shooting, but it didn’t happen. Still, he plans to continue working on his range. “I was trying to add it for this year, but it was not the right time,” he said. “Next year I definitely want to add it.”

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