The new Oklahoma City Thunder rookie has lit up the preseason proving he is much more than just a fun name to say.
The former Kentucky Wildcat has been a bright light for the Thunder showing why General Manager Sam Presti traded for him on draft night. The Brooklyn Nets took Diallo with the 45th pick to then trade him to the Charlotte Hornets, who would ultimately deal him to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder got Diallo for a 2019 second round pick and cash considerations, but the trade couldn’t go through until July 6th because another trade involving Dwight Howard but ultimately the Thunder would get their man. Diallo and the Thunder would later agree on a contract extension of three years, $4 million.
In his first season at Kentucky Diallo shot 33.8 percent (26 for 77) from 3-point range and 61.6 percent from the free-throw line. Diallo went through a slump during his time with the Wildcats failing to reach double-digit points 13 times in the Wildcats last 16 games. Despite his struggles, Diallo left a positive impression on his college coach.
“Here’s a young man one of the nicest people, one of the most loyal people that I’ve coached,” UK’s John Calipari said in a video posted after Diallo was drafted. “(He’s) respectful in every way. He goes into this league well prepared to make it.”
Diallo made an impact for the Thunder at Summer League showing off his extraordinary athleticism and energy. Diallo would have his best game against the Nets scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and two steals. Diallo had an incredible dunk where he drove baseline and dropped the hammer showing that he will fit absolutely perfect on this Thunder team.
In his short time with the Thunder Diallo is already impressing getting praise from his teammates.
“I think Hami has a lot of myself in him,” George said. “When I look at Hami, I see a lot of how I used to play and how I approached the game. Heck of a talent. He has got that star power in him. I think with him, it’s just he has to continue to go through the learning curve, and that’s on us to help him get to his potential.”
He’s hungry, we all know about his athleticism. Tremendous athlete, tremendous player, tremendous kid. His most important factor is that he’s humble and that he’s willing to learn. He’s out there every single morning, the first one in the gym, he’s working hard, he’s asking questions to every single teammate, he’s asking questions to the coaching staff and he’s worked hard on the court. That’s what you want in your players and with him, he’s extremely talented, extremely gifted and he’s been showcasing his abilities so there’s no telling how far that kid can go.” said Patrick Patterson.
But the highest praise for Diallo came from Steven Adams.
“He is performing very well,” Thunder big man Steven Adams said about Diallo. “Outside of his rebounding, it’s not so much that, but it’s his discipline of what he has picked up from training camp, his cuts, knowing all of the plays, his loading up on the defensive end. He has picked it up very fast, especially for a rookie. That’s full credit for that.”
Diallo has been spectacular in the Thunder’s preseason games averaging 11 points on 16-of-37 shooting at 43.2 percent also going 3-of-8 from three-point range at 37.5 percent, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Diallo had his best game for the Thunder in their last game of preseason as Terence Ferguson sat out the game against the Milwaukee Bucks with concussion protocol giving way for Diallo to start in his place. Diallo would play 40 minutes in the Thunders 119-115 overtime win with Diallo finishing with 19 points on 8-of-16 shots at 50 percent while also going 3-of-5 from three-point range at a scorching 60 percent from deep. Diallo also added five rebounds and four assists for the game.
Hamidou Diallo has already made an impact with the Thunder threw his work ethic and natural talent. Diallo, more importantly, has shown he isn’t just a cool name that is fun to say he is more than that, Diallo is an explosive attacker who also has the energy to be a good defender. Diallo fits the Thunder blueprint of extraordinary athleticism to go along with superhuman energy. Hopefully, that blueprint can make another superstar as it has before.