Second-Round Candidate: Hamidou Diallo
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ID CARD: 6-foot-6 shooting guard, Kentucky, freshman, 19 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 37th by ESPN.com, 34th by SI.com, 15th among guards by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: The fact the New York native wound up at Kentucky tells you something of his potential. John Calipari recruits almost exclusively in five-star neighborhoods and Diallo is no exception. He nearly entered the 2017 draft despite not having played a college game after uncertainty over his eligibility status. His tools are what NBA teams covet most these days – a long, willowy, athletic defender with the potential to emerge as a starter as his skills mature. On a Kentucky team with two likely lottery picks (Shea Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox), Diallo settled into a role as a complementary scorer and defensive stopper. He’s a weapon in transition with his power and athleticism.
SCOUTS WONDER: Perhaps Diallo would have gone higher in the 2017 draft without 37 games at Kentucky in which scouts saw a pattern of spotty ballhandling and decision making that puts question marks on his upside. Diallo reported at the NBA draft combine in Chicago that he had an interview scheduled with the Pistons. The Pistons were said by every prospect who had already met with them to be employing virtual reality technology to gauge their decision making. Perhaps the Pistons, then, have that much greater insight into Diallo’s ability to see the floor and make the right read. Basketball IQ is the biggest hurdle Diallo must overcome to push into first-round consideration. His 3-point shooting at Kentucky wasn’t great (.338 on 2.1 attempts per game, about a quarter of his shots) but was good enough to suggest with a little work he can get to NBA average within a few years.
NUMBER TO NOTE: 40.5 – Diallo’s vertical leap at the Chicago combine. Combine that with his nearly 7 foot wing span and you have two pretty good ingredients for an elite defender.
MONEY QUOTE: “I don’t tend to really much look at (mock drafts) a lot. I definitely look at it just to fuel myself up. I’ve seen some and see what occurs, but at the end of the day it’s all about how you perform.” – Hamidou Diallo at the NBA draft combine last week
PISTONS FIT: Diallo’s solid frame and length suggest he could play both wing spots comfortably. With only Stanley Johnson as a natural fit at small forward among the 12 players under contract for next season, adding a player with Diallo’s versatility and defensive upside would be a solid move and represent great value at 42. The Pistons also must prepare for the possibility of losing Reggie Bullock in free agency a year from now.
BOTTOM LINE: Diallo’s draft stock is a bit of a wild card at this time. His reputation preceded him to Kentucky and to this phase of his NBA journey, but his production at Kentucky didn’t scream first-round draft pick. A team confident of Diallo’s intent and of its own developmental capabilities might be moved to take him somewhere in the 20s. If he manages to get past the early second round, Diallo would figure to be on a very short list of Pistons possibilities with the 42nd pick.