Is OKC Thunder wing Hamidou Diallo more than just a high flyer?

Hamidou Diallo, OKC Thunder (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Hamidou Diallo, OKC Thunder (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Can OKC Thunder second-year wing Hamidou Diallo prove he is more than just a high flyer during the 2019-20 season?

The OKC Thunder regular season is a week away! Yes, I am screaming internally (heck, and externally). No, I am not prepared for the lack of sleep that I will get throughout the season but I am willing to do it for our loyal readers (who should also be following me on Twitter) but enough about that. Let’s continue our one player, one question series with the high flying, always exciting, Hamidou Diallo.

A lot of progress has been made on this series and the end is near. Marching towards the start of the season get ready for a flurry of articles as T.I. finishes up the current OKC Thunder roster.

For this article, I tackle Hamidou Diallo. The 21-year-old wing player that experienced 51 games of NBA action, highlighted by a Slam Dunk championship where he soared over Shaq in the most jaw-dropping Slam Dunk contest moment this side of Zach LaVine vs Aaron Gordon.

The one question for Hamidou Diallo is simple, can Diallo be more than just an exciting high flyer? Again, as I have in each article of this series it is first important to understand the question. While no one thinks Hamidou Diallo will rise to stardom and see a spicy P level production jump, is there more to him than just his springy hops?

What does that look like though? I mean surely given the new roster construction of a team that is heading into year one (of what could be a quick) rebuild will allot more minutes to a prospect trying to prove himself.

The minutes will not be an issue, I do not think. Unless Billy Donovan pulls a Sam Presti level rabbit out of his rotational hat, Diallo will see a significant increase to his just over ten minutes per game from a year ago.

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In those minutes though it will be important to gauge how Diallo is progressing as a player. Offensively what to watch for is simple. Can he put the ball on the floor now? Does it even look like that could be a part of his game?

For example, when Terrance Ferguson had ball-handling duties in the summer league two years ago, it was clear that ball-handling would never be a part of the shooting guard’s arsenal.

For this version of the OKC Thunder, they do not need Diallo to be a go-to ball handler they already have many of those when you mix in Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul to the Thunder backcourt.

But can Diallo create for himself? If he can not only put the ball on the hardwood and drive to the lane that will start bringing defenders with him and opening up his teammates.

Defensively what to watch for, gets more interesting. Who is the 6’5 wing able to cover? Will he be another player in this system that turns their defense from decent, or above-average to good or even elite?

Josh Huestis, Jerami Grant, Andre Roberson, and Terrance Ferguson are all good to elite defenders who developed that aspect of their game from their time in Oklahoma City. After watching Diallo defend one of the best young players in this league, Luka Doncic, in the preseason I am encouraged that he could be next on the list.

I think Diallo has a very good shot at becoming a rotational piece for the OKC Thunder and could be a diamond found in the second round rough.

Deonte Burton is making a case for more minutes. dark. Next

What do you think Hamidou Diallo can be? Is he just a stop-gap in the OKC Thunder’s rebuilding rotation, or a mainstay?