(photo credentials: USA TODAY)
What do we make of Hamidou Diallo? He's a second rounder, traded twice, and he's likely to find himself in the OKC rotation-- maybe as soon as the opener with Terrance Ferguson still in concussion protocol via the Hawks pre-season game. When Presti was able to seek out a swap strong enough to gain the services of Diallo, the profile on him was "long, explosive, raw athlete." To Thunder fans, that means two things: He is likely to play the role of defensive wing, also he can't shoot or contribute on the offensive end.
Through the pre-season, Diallo has posted the following stats:
OKC v Pistons: 24 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds.
OKC v Timberwolves: 23 minutes, 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists.
OKC v Hawks: 25 minutes, 13 points, 5 rebounds.
OKC v Bucks: 40 minutes, 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists.
Following the pre-season, we've learned so much about Diallo. His handles, better than expected. His shooting, better than expected-- also, not afraid of taking a shot. His defense, so fluid, yet so effective with his length while getting around screens. It is as if Diallo merely floats on the floor while he's playing defense, he's hustling, but he makes it look so effortless. Lastly, what's clearly noticeable, his athleticism and explosion. When a ball is around the rim, one usually notices a big man, typically Nerlens Noel or Jerami Grant in the lane. But, all of the sudden, as if he's dropped out of a helicopter, Hami crashes into the frame for a rebound, a put-back, or a reset of the offense.
I've been very adamant by saying that Diallo is much further along in his development at this point in his career than Ferguson was last year. I am not completely asserting that Diallo is better than Ferguson because only time will tell during the 82 game season that is about to fall upon us. But, I am asserting that Diallo definitely looks like a guy that's going to receive legitimate playing minutes under Billy Donovan-- not just mop up duty. Regardless, Thunder fans should feel elated about Big Ham, it looks like Sam Presti secured a steal.