The Charlotte Hornets have traded for Hamidou Diallo in the 2018 NBA draft. The selection originally belonged to the Brooklyn Nets with the No. 45 overall pick.
After testing the NBA waters as a fifth-year high school student in 2017, Diallo chose to withdraw and play out his freshman season at Kentucky. It wasn't the smoothest ride. There were numerous low points for Diallo during the year. But the long-term projection still shows value in his explosive athleticism at just 19, which suggests he has time to improve in an NBA game that he's likely better suited for than college.
Weight: 6'11 ½"
Wingspan: 197 pounds
Pro-player comparison: Gerald Green
Quick, agile and explosive, Diallo is best in transition, where he takes long strides and can soar above the rim. His athleticism and length fuel slashing potential. Skill-wise, everything came in flashes. His shooting mechanics appear to have improved, and though he wasn't consistent, he showed he can knock down spot-up threes and curl into a jumper.
Diallo only scored .686 points per possession, ranking in the 46th percentile. He struggles to create shots for himself in the half court. Between isolation and pick-and-roll ball-handling, Diallo was 6-of-20 all season. His shooting is still a problem, as he made just 28.9 percent of his total jump shots. His bounce didn't translate to efficient finishing around the basket, where he shot 51.1 percent. And he wound up with 51 total turnovers to 46 assists.
It's tough to beat Diallo's defense tools when taking into account his wingspan, foot speed and leaping ability. Potential exists. However, he didn't show good awareness or energy. And too often, he'd allow easy penetration. For a player with his athletic ability, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks per 40 minutes are underwhelming.
Rookie year projection
Diallo will benefit from a faster NBA, but until he's a more accurate shooter and reliable defender, he'll watch from the bench or play in the G League. He's a good bet to receive DNPs throughout his rookie season if on the regular roster. Expect Diallo to spend most of his minutes in the G League to strengthen his skill level and confidence after a shaky freshman season, where at times, he simply looked deflated.
Projected role: Athletic specialist reserve
Gerald Green has stuck around a long time in the pros without any distinguishable skill. His athleticism alone holds value when he's able to appropriately channel it. Diallo can follow suit with similar physical abilities. He'll have to continue improving around the perimeter at both ends, and odds are he will to a degree. Diallo as an NBA scoring guard seems out of reach, but settling into a high-octane energy role is an achievable feat.