The Oklahoma Thunder have added rookie Hamidou Diallo to their stable of young athletic big men. Diallo starred at Kentucky for one year before he bolted for the NBA, and despite his 2nd round status, was recently signed to a 3 year deal. This adds further depth to the swing man position, both for future potential but as well as OKC’s G-League roster for the Blue.
It’s been a shaky journey for Diallo the new addition for the Thunder. According to Jerry Tipton, he’s “been on three NBA teams. So no one needs to remind him that professional sports are a business.” Diallo didn’t know where he was going to end up. He went from the Nets to the Hornets and finally arrived on the Thunder. Imagine being a young man fresh out of college and being thrown around like a piece of meat. It’s all about business and its reasonable for him to take it personally. Diallo seems to have handled it well and has remained quite up beat.
What does he bring to the table? His athleticism is excellent, for starters. Brett Dawson reports that this rookie boasts a registered 44.5 inch vertical, has speed and quickness. These are, what can we say, helpful abilities for an NBA player to just get noticed and not too mention myself being in my late 30s I wouldn’t mind having a fourth of that vertical!
Thunder couch Donovan in addition gives him the nod for his “closing speed” meaning if he gets beat on defense or if he is slow on a defensive switch, he can quickly recover. So these are his raw features that the Thunder can play around with.
It appears that the role he may be assuming with the Thunder is a wing defender, and certainly consistent with what Sam Presti has hunted for in the past, in the likes of Andre Roberson, Perry Jones, and Josh Huestis. This is a spot that many quick athletic players can be placed when the current roster already has its roles laid out. Every team is looking for more defensive minded players who have defensive awareness. If they can guard multiple positions, all the better. It may not seem like the most glamorous role, but it is needed and can add to the success of the team.
That said, Diallo has a long road ahead of him to prove his worthiness. However if he focuses on specializing in this role he could prove to be of use, something that Roberson figured out and Jones never did. Take it from Mr. Thunder Nick Collison — role players have to figure out how they’re going to contribute if they want to remain on the roster. As Dawson put it:
“On paper, Diallo is an unlikely rotation player. He’s 20 years old, hasn’t played an NBA game.”
While he may not stand out as just another swing man yet, he may be privileged to learn under the likes of Paul George, another unlikely superstar coming out of college. Clearly Presti places high value on this type of player, who represent low risk, high impact. The challenge though is actually earning a spot in Billy Donovan’s rotation. Redundancy can be prohibitive, but young talented players, which also includes Nerlens Noel, are given a shot in OKC. Diallo is the latest.
Welcome Hamidou Diallo to the Thunder! Your new presence here is welcomed. May he be hat rare jewel found in the draft that will truly shine in the pros.
Where do you think Diallo will start out on day 1?
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