Pistons add one of NBA’s ‘most athletic wings’ in Hamidou Diallo from Oklahoma City

Add another long, athletic wing player to the Pistons, who not so long ago were bereft of that type of player that is in demand across the NBA. General manager Troy Weaver sent Svi Mykhailiuk to Oklahoma City in a trade made official Saturday and takes back Hamidou Diallo in return, an exchange of two players taken two spots apart in the 2018 draft.

Diallo, a five-star recruit who played one season at Kentucky, was taken 45th in that 2018 draft, three spots after the Pistons selected Bruce Brown and two spots ahead of where the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Mykhailiuk.

Diallo, 22, emerged in his third season as a rotation staple for the Thunder after winning the 2019 NBA Slam Dunk championship. In 24 minutes a game, he’s averaging 11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Mykhailiuk, 23, has averaged 17.6 minutes a game and 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Mykhailiuk is undeniably the better shooter, though after shooting 40 percent from the 3-point arc in 2019-20 he’d slumped to 33 percent this season. Diallo is a career 26 percent 3-point shooter – he’s at 29 percent this season – on low volume, taking only 14 percent of his shots from the arc. Mykhailiuk, by contrast, took 77 percent of his shots from the 3-point line this season. Diallo’s advantages come at the defensive end, in transition and as a rim attacker. He’s taking 54 percent of his shots at the rim and finishing at an above-average 63 percent.

“He’s a wing defender – can guard one through three, the smaller fours,” Dwane Casey said of Diallo. “Excellent wing runner. He’s quick, athletic – probably one of the most athletic wings in the league. Needs to continue to work on his 3-point shooting, which is what our league is about. But he’ll definitely step right in as one of our top defenders. He has a wingspan that’s out of this world, anticipates well and competes.”

Diallo measured 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-11¼ wingspan at the 2018 draft combine, where he posted an eye-popping 44½-inch vertical leap – second-best in combine history at the time – to finish ahead of new teammate Frank Jackson, second at 42 inches.

Casey said he’s not sure when Diallo will be able to join the Pistons under NBA health and safety protocols, which will require a quarantine period. Diallo had missed the last four games with Oklahoma City with groin soreness, which could also delay his Pistons debut.

Diallo joins Jerami Grant, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey and Sekou Doumbouya among a cohort of young, versatile, athletic wings. Like Mykhailiuk, Diallo would be a restricted free agent this summer if the Pistons extend a modest qualifying offer of $2.1 million. The Pistons could then negotiate a long-term contract with him or have the right to match any offer he receives from another team.

Weaver was a part of Oklahoma City’s front office when Diallo was acquired in a draft-day trade with Brooklyn and Casey said he sees him as a fit with the type of player Weaver said he would seek to acquire for the Pistons.

“Troy knows him well. He’s a guy who competes,” Casey said. “I know a little about him, being at Kentucky. But Troy is the one who got him there when he was traded to Oklahoma City, so he fits in from the toughness standpoint. We still need to continue to improve our shooting. I think he will do that because he’s a worker. Our coaches will work relentlessly. They’ve done an excellent job with Saben (Lee).”