Hamidou Diallo is yet another Detroit Pistons player I had far too high of expectations for coming into this season. Watching him after the trade and even watching some games from last season with the Thunder for the DBB “Player Review” series, I was all in. That excitement was QUICKLY put into check at the start of this season when Hami was out of the rotation and did not play in almost half of the first 13 games and logged less than 12 minutes in four of the games he played. Eventually, Hami got his chance, and to my eye you can tell he is doing everything he can to take advantage.
Just because a player is getting an opportunity does not necessarily translate to tangible (or intangible) production on the court, though. The energy and athleticism of Diallo almost always pops off the screen when he is in the game, and I will break down where I think that can be a huge positive for him when it comes to rebounding and being a disruptor on the defensive end. The biggest question mark for Hami (as it seems it is with most of this Pistons roster) is what he can bring on the offensive end in terms of scoring production.
I know we saw Diallo start on Sunday night vs the Brooklyn Nets, but I went to this breakdown trying to look at him through the lens of being a second-unit contributor on a good team. I wanted to see if this is a guy that, while maybe not part of the “core” moving forward, could be a part of the bench unit when this team is ready to start turning the corner over the next few years. First up, let’s look at what the film showed over the past three games in terms of his potential as scorer and where he is getting his buckets.
Using the shooting numbers on Basketball Reference, Hami is shooting over 70% at the rim AND 68% on attempts from 3-10 feet. Although a small sample size, these numbers are very encouraging, and I am interested to see if he can keep them up as he continues to get consistent minutes and opportunities throughout the rest of the season. The outside shooting is OBVIOUSLY an issue as he is just 6-22 from 3 on the year after shooting almost 40% in his limited games with the Pistons at the end of last season. As I continue to spread the narrative of this team playing in transition, I’m not sure there is a player who better fits that than Hami who according to Synergy (courtesy of our guy Ku Khahil) is ranked in the 87th percentile in the league or “Excellent” in transition situations.
Now, I realize all of that (minus the 3-point shooting) is pretty positive and encouraging, but Hami obviously has his limitations offensively. We have not seen efficiency in the midrange, which makes the prospect of being a three-level scorer difficult. The lack of 3-point shooting can cause issues for the offense in general as I have shown in previous breakdowns. With that said, I do think that in the right role off the bench and staying with what he is good at he does possess the scoring attributes to be a solid contributor off the bench. There are also a couple of interesting ways I believe he could be used with his athleticism even though he does not fit the “prototypical” mold in terms of height that I will show in the breakdown.
Energy and Athleticism
As I said earlier, this is the part of Diallo’s game that you first notice. I remember watching one of his early games with the Pistons last season and being immediately impressed with his “2nd jump” ability on an offensive rebound off his own miss. Previously, I have called him a Top 5-10 wing rebounder in the league and while that was greedy, I do think he could be Top 20 in the league. He currently sits fourth on the Pistons in rebounds per 100 Possessions (9 per 100) of players who have played in 19 or more games ahead of guys like Saddiq Bey, Josh Jackson and Jerami Grant.
On the defensive end, I would like to see Hami use his energy level and athleticism to create more transition opportunities via steals and blocked shots. While his numbers are okay in those areas, I think really showing the ability to be a disruptor on defense would help balance out the offensive shortcomings.
Putting a Cap on his Minutes
This is one of the main reasons I continue to look at Hami as part of the second unit of the future. I am not sure he is a guy that you want playing more than 6-8 consecutive minutes or more than 20-24 minutes in a game. I think you have to have a nice balance and feel for how long you let him play before making a move to get him a breather and re-group.
In multiple games, including the last two, we have seen GREAT stretches from Diallo that were then followed by questionable play. A prime example comes from the New Orleans Pelicans game when, after an electrifying dunk, Diallo followed up with two missed 3-point attempts when Jonas Valanciunas was closing out on him and he could have attacked off the dribble to create a higher percentage shot for himself or his teammates.
At times, I believe he lets the energy he plays with and the energy in the gym get him sped up and make questionable decisions. This also makes me wonder if he will be a guy that will be counted on to play minutes in crutch time of 4th quarters when possessions are at a premium.
Personally, based on what we have seen up to this point I like the idea of Hamidou Diallo being a member of the second unit for this organization. I think the energy he plays with and what he brings to the table is a really nice fit for a guy coming off the bench. Hami is also only 23 years old and has plenty of room for growth and improvement in his game and is young enough to make those strides. With the injury to Jerami Grant it looks like we are going to see Hami in a starting role and I very well could be wrong and we see him flourish (which I would be more than happy to see). I hate that injury for Jerami but if there is a “silver lining” I guess it would be that it opened up this opportunity for Hami to run with the starters and see what kind of chemistry he may build with Cade. If that chemistry is strong and we see a jump in the level of play from Hami, and the starting unit, during this stretch I think it could help solidify his spot with the Pistons Troy Weaver and Coach Casey.