OKC Thunder rook gains peer respect, plus 3 takeaways from NBA survey

Hamidou Diallo, OKC Thunder (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Hamidou Diallo, OKC Thunder (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Hamidou Diallo, OKC Thunder (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Could Hamidou Diallo be the surprise of the draft?

Like the 2017 draft this season’s draft class is deep with talent. The irony for Hamidou Diallo is he would likely have been selected in the lottery portion of the draft had he not returned to school. Instead the youngster elected one more College season. And, not just any season or any team as he returned to play with the Kentucky Wildcats.

Once there, it was clear there were definitive weaknesses in Diallo’s game, specifically on the offensive end. Then again, this is the type of lanky defender the OKC Thunder brain trust salivate over, so it’s no wonder Sam Presti made the move to jump on adding the wing man via a trade which occurred at the very end of the draft evening.

For Diallo to become the player who surprises the most akin to Malcolm Brogdon, Donovan Mitchell or Kyle Kuzma he’ll need a more complete game. That, and Billy Donovan will need to do something he generally hasn’t shown a propensity for — playing his rookies. Rather, Billy D designating consistent minutes and role to a rookie.

As noted above Terrance Ferguson benefited with playing time because of an untimely injury. The hope is Donovan will have a specific role for Diallo and he can play in a similar fashion to what Corey Brewer offered last season in terms of helping to push pace, drive in transition and hit outside shots.

If Diallo improves this offseason and Donovan abandons his typical behavior then Hamidou Diallo could be the biggest surprise of the 2018 draft class.