Reader Grade: C (48% of votes)
While again showing what we refer to as “flashes” as a young player (accepting the challenge of defending Giannis Antetokounmpo, exerting force and athleticism for the occasional offensive board, and of course the dunks), Hamidou Diallo’s performance from last season to this was flat. He was afforded 8 more minutes per game of playing time, but was stagnant in both counting and advance stats. He’s learning to defend one-on-one without fouling, and serving as a modest plus in the team’s defensive scheme. On offense, he’s just woeful. More assertive than Terrance Ferguson but much worse at shooting, Diallo has a -3.74 O-PIPM1 and improved his three-point shooting percentage to 20% in 2019-20.
He didn’t do more with increased opportunity, but it must be noted that health has still been a limiting factor for his availability and, likely, development. Entering his second season, Diallo was thought to be over the elbow injury that limited him for the second half of his rookie season. But in late November, LeBron James was “fouled” by the young wing, hyperextending that same elbow. Diallo missed 17 games, and then declined to defend his Dunk Contest belt at the All-Star Break three months later in order to avoid another re-injury.
In a celebration of Diallo’s dunking prowess for Daily Thunder, Shea Vassar relayed how Hami had wowed the crowd at Madison Square Garden after missing the chance to wow All-Star attendees in Charlotte. In what has become an ironic coda to Diallo’s (and the NBA’s) suspended 2019-20 season, Vassar said:
“His raw talent and skills are still something he is figuring out but hey, that’s what the rest of this season is for.”
Diallo never played another game due to the COVID-19 shutdown, robbed of even more time to grow as a player. Hence, a frozen grade of disappointment for an incomplete season.