(First posted at RealGM)
Hamidou Diallo declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and stayed in it up until the very last minute possible, supposedly fishing for a promise to be picked in the first round. It appears that promise never came, so Diallo opted to return to Kentucky, where he enrolled last January but had an agreement in place with John Calipari not to participate in any games last season in order to keep open the option to go to the NBA straight out of high school.
Since that didn’t pan out, instead of playing Summer League in Las Vegas in July, the just-turned 19-year-old suited up for the United States Junior National Team at the 2017 U19 FIBA World Championships in Cairo, Egypt.
The US disappointed, finishing third, and Diallo himself was mostly a mixed bag. The six-foot-five wing averaged 23.9 points per 40 minutes but on below average 47.6% effective shooting. He did plenty in transition, off ball reversals and attacking closeouts, logging 24.5% usage-rate, but didn’t get many opportunities as a shot creator against a set defense. His measurables and athletic prowess are impressive but his defense was generally underwhelming.
Based on his appearances in the high school and AAU circuit, it seems Diallo’s top skill is his ability to create a shot for himself in an individualistic manner, as he’s shown he has a lot of resources to get by his man or shake him side-to-side, create separation and get a good look off:
- In-and-out dribble
- Stop-and-start burst
- Crossover into between the legs move
- Cleverness to protect the ball in traffic
- Strength to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact
Diallo is equally versatile as a finisher. He is an explosive leaper off one foot to go up strong and finish through contract, while also having the flexibility to adjust body in the air to score around rim protectors and has flashed a floater to launch over length from the in-between area – shooting 50.9% on 16.6 two-point attempts per 40 minutes in Cairo, according to our stats’ database.
As an aggressive rim attacker, he’s also shown a knack for drawing contact and living at the foul line against less physically developed types within his age group – earning 8.8 free throws per 40 minutes at the Worlds U19.
But for the most part in Egypt, Diallo played off the ball in the half-court and he wasn’t particularly impressive in that role.
Diallo often spot up in the weak-side as a floor space but was a reluctant shooter, taking just 10 three-pointers in his 127 minutes. He gets little elevation off the ground but his balance is great and his form looks like a solid base to build upon. The ball didn’t go in a whole lot, though, as he missed eight of those threes.
Diallo also didn’t have the chance to showcase if he has any versatility to his shot, as the US didn’t have him coming off screens or popping off setting back-screens.
Within a team-oriented context, his passing on the move was his most promising contribution. As he sucked in the defense working off the dribble and drew two to the ball, Diallo proved he’s able to deliver drop-offs to big men at the dunker’s spot and kick-outs to shooters spot-up in the strong-side – assisting on 19.5% of the US’s scores when he was on the floor.
He also managed to pitch in on the offensive glass, where he showed a knack for mixing it up and an exceptional second jump to fight for tip-ins – collecting 10% of the US’s misses when he was in the lineup.
Diallo has the physical tools to project as an impact player on defense but didn’t do that great in Cairo.
He did use his six-foot-11 wingspan well to make plays in the passing lanes – averaging 2.5 steals per 40 minutes, but was unimpressive in every other area.
His closeouts were iffy. He executed the scheme and made his rotations but didn’t make many plays at the basket, picking up just two blocks in seven appearances, which was surprising low total for such an exceptional athlete. His 9.9% defensive rebounding rate was disappointing too.
In individual defense, he got in a stance and proved to have pretty good lateral quickness but doesn’t consistently stay in front and when he does he lacks the strength in his 195-pound frame to contain dribble penetration.
According to our stats’ database, Diallo ranked just ninth in the team in defensive rating.
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