Hamidou Diallo walked into last year’s Slam Dunk Contest at All Star Weekend in Charlotte as the candidate least likely to win. Of course, we all remember how that ended. Who can forget when a first year player jumps over Shaq to rip open his jersey and reveal the Superman logo as he hangs on the rim? And even though Diallo is no longer the reigning dunk champion of the NBA (an injury kept him from competing this All-Star break), his intensity and motivation to slam the ball through the hoop have still been on display this season.
Number six on the Thunder deserves to permanently be recognized for his dunking skills.
The Knicks game this past Friday was an incredible display of Diallo’s dunking capability. Thanks to his two out of three made attempts, Spike Lee’s feud with James Dolan wasn’t the topic among the mumbling crowd. Even in the post-game, Coach Donovan stated, “Him (Diallo) finding those spots, those slashes, those dives, those quick cuts to the basket: we need that from him.” Maybe this performance was just fueled by the mystique of being at Madison Square Garden near Diallo’s old stomping grounds of Queens, but it got me thinking: how often does the kid get to the rim?
At just 21 years old, Diallo is only a little over a season and a half into his career. In this time he has played 89 games, attempted 57 dunks and made 87.7% of those attempts. This is coming from a guy who has averaged just 13.8 minutes so far in his career. Sure, I’ve had things in my refrigerator longer than Diallo’s been in the league, but looking at this season alone proves that he is a player that can fight to that finish at the rim, with potential for even more above-the-rim displays.
In 38 games so far (18.4 minutes per), Diallo has attempted 34 dunks and made 82.4% of those attempts. He trails only the 6’11 Nerlens Noel (93.8%) in converting these attempts for OKC. While Noel is camped out in the paint, Diallo takes off from drives and cuts that begin at the perimeter for a more spectacular visual.
Even with this season’s average going down, most likely due to his injury earlier, Diallo’s commitment to make direct contact with the rim is there. His raw talent and skills are still something he is figuring out but hey, that’s what the rest of this season is for. This same tenacity can also be viewed as potential for consistency and energy in his defensive efforts.
As of now, I crown Hamidou Diallo the Dunk King of OKC. He’s still growing into himself as a player so I hope this isn’t premature, but I think Diallo is an incredible asset to the Thunder. His passion is evident, and his ability becomes more and more realized as we watch him grow. I can’t wait to see what Diallo throws down next.