(First posted at RealGM)
Diallo is similar to European prospects in the sense that he’s declaring for the draft without much recent evidence available of his talents, as he logged an almost impossible to believe 202 (TWO HUNDRED AND TWO) minutes last season. He was suspended for the first couple of months due to an NCAA investigation and never proved to have the sort of skill-level that fits Bill Self’s preferences, which makes it absurd Self recruited him in the first place.
Diallo lacks strength to establish deep position and bully opposing big men in the post, doesn’t have the combination of footwork and touch to get any good looks when he did get the ball with his back the basket, has no jumper to do anything with the ball from the mid-range and has never shown any passing instincts.
Defensively, he hurts the team with his inability to defend the post (which is a bigger problem in college) and can have a hard time boxing out true centers, as he’s only six-foot-nine and 218 pounds. Diallo is also extremely undeveloped from a team defense perspective (lost against the pick-and-roll) and showed poor extremely instincts in situations where he needed to think quickly, often making himself vulnerable to fouling, resulting in an average of 7.5 personal fouls per 40 minutes last season.
The reason why Diallo is going to end up a first round pick anyway is his athletic ability, which really is impressive.
He has nice hands to catch the ball on the move and can explode off the ground in a pinch to play above the rim as a target for lobs in transition, in the dunker spot and out of the pick-and-roll. Diallo can also make an impact an impact in the offensive glass, where his seven-foot-four wingspan helps him rebound outside of his area – collecting 10% of Kansas’ misses when he was on the floor.
Defensively, while Diallo struggled with the timing of his rotations, when he made them right, he proved himself an excellent rim protector, able to cover a lot of ground in a pinch and not only block shots in volume elevating out of one foot but also out of two feet defending on the ball – averaging 4.6 denials per 40 minutes.
As mentioned above, Diallo struggled boxing out behemoths, but he still managed to produce on the defensive glass, utilizing his athleticism to pursuit the ball off the rim relentlessly – grabbing 27% of opponents’ misses when he was in the game.
That prolificacy chasing after the ball is, perhaps, a bigger deal than his inability to hold ground below the glass because Diallo should be relied to pick up smaller players on switches quite a bit in his early days as a pro – unless he develops some team defense instincts at an unprecedented rate. And he is expected to be up for the task, as he can bend his knees to get low in a stance and possesses the sort of agility to keep pace with not just wings but also guards.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara