What Hamidou Diallo brings to the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Bad Boys

Troy Weaver doesn’t like to sit still. On Friday, he made another move in his effort to ‘restore’ the Detroit Pistons. Svi Mykhailiuk, the longest-tenured Piston with two years, one month and six days with the club, was dealt with a second-round pick to Oklahoma City Thunder for 22-year-old Hamidou Diallo.

The move means Detroit is bringing a long (6-foot-11 wingspan in addition to a 6-foot-5 height) and athletic wing in place of taller player (6-foot-7), but one with T-rex arms (6-foot-6 wingspan) and less agility. But it is also a change in more basketball specific terms: the addition of a playmaking wing who has skills allowing him to use his premier athleticism to penetrate the arc and attack the basket in place of a perimeter-oriented wing who was developing some secondary ball handling ability to penetrate the arc.

Hamidou’s skillset fits into a scheme of new Motor City’s guards and wings. The scheme (from which we need to exclude some veterans, namely Wayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder, that teams need, and Deividas Sirvydis, whom we still don’t know as an NBA player) is constituted by the following variables: being young, long and supremely athletic, being able to penetrate the arc and attack the basket, being able to create for others, and still learning to shoot. So, like his new teammates, the newest Piston excels in driving to the basket. Further, in accordance with the needs of Dwayne Casey’s offensive system, Diallo isn’t just a slasher. Well, he can make slashes to the basket, but he can do much more.

Hamidou Diallo on Offense

Owing to his dribbling skills, he can penetrate the arc looking for the best driving lanes. When you look at these drives, it’s like looking at Delon Wright’s drives … but with athleticism sliders maxed out in NBA 2K.

Hamidou is also displaying nice touch with both hands.

His athleticism and touch allow him to make good cuts, too.

However, he ranks in 43rd percentile in this category, so he has a lot of room to grow.

Hamidou also likes to roll from P&R screens.

This is a play that coach Casey likes to employ, and did that especially with his multiple-guards lineups in Toronto.

All these plays allow Diallo to have a solid, 63.2 FG% in restricted area. However, his FG% becomes more problematic further from the basket. Hami has 36.2 FG% in the paint non-restricted area, 34.9 FG% from midrange and 29.3 3P%.

Hamidou’s midrange J

Hamidou’s triples

All these are significantly below NBA average. Nevertheless, there are two mitigating circumstances. First, the Kentucky alum is progressing season by season in volume and efficiency on shots from the paint non-restricted area (from 23 shots overall on 26.1 FG% to 54 and 27.8% to 69 in half of current season and 36.2%) and from beyond the arc (from 0.5 3PA per game on 16.7 3P% to 1.2 and 28.1% to 1.3 and 29.3%). Second, as the example of Delon shows, you can be a successful dribble penetrator in Detroit’s offense without being effective between restricted area and 3-point line. But it’s good to be effective from beyond the arc. Thus, Diallo’s improvements in this area is a priority. He probably will need to make some changes in his mechanics as his long shot is often awkwardly slow and lacking the proper momentum and arc.

Three more things need to be mentioned when speaking about the newest Piston’s offense are his ability to draws fouls, creating for others and his hustle on offensive glass.

With a 44.4 FTr, he’s 16th in the entire league in drawing fouls. As the film shows, he’s just too dynamic to handle, especially when a big is switched onto him.

The problem here is that he’s a bad shooter also from the charity stripe – 62.9 FT%. On the other hand, the fact that in the six games he played in G League in his rookie season he was 22-of-26 – good for 84.6 FG% – and that his form isn’t bad, provides hope he can improve markedly as a free-throw shooter.

Although his 16.1 AST Ratio and 1.57 AST/TO ratio put him around the middle of the NBA, Hamidou is also a skilled facilitator.

Because of his ability to penetrate the arc, he can find passing lanes as good as he can find driving lanes. His 4.8 assists per 100 possessions don’t make him a point guard on the wing, (Wright has 8.2, for comparison), but if he’ll be played as a two-guard next to, let’s say, Killian Hayes, he has already shown to be a great complement next to a young point guard.

With 4.5 ORB%, Diallo is 30th among 261 guards in the League. On film, we can see that his athleticism is again very helpful.

Hamidou Diallo on Defense

Defensively, Diallo could be a game changer in the Detroit Pistons lineup. He looks to have very good potential as on-ball defender.

He’s in 79th percentile in defending ball handler in P&Rs, allowing 0.78 PPP in these plays, and in 58th percentile defending isolations (0.88 PPP). He’s elite in defending spot-up shooters (92.5 percentile, 0.74 PPP).

His nimbleness allows him to recover quickly after being screened and effectively contests shots.

This plays a crucial role in his defense against plays off screen (61.7 percentile, 0.87 PPP) and on handoffs (70.7 percentile, 0.79 PPP). All this allows him limit opponents to shooting 6.5% worse against him than against other defenders.

Hamidou also shows potential to be very good as off-ball defender. He’s active in passing lanes.

His 1.5 steals per 36 minutes put him in 79th percentile in the NBA. And his 2.2 deflections per 36 minutes put him close to the top third in the NBA. He’s also eager to provide help.

Finally, Diallo is also active on the defensive boards.

As you can see, he likes to crash the defensive glass and with 15.1 DRB% putting him 30th among 261 guards in the league.

There are also couple of problems he’ll need to address on this end as well, though. First, Hami fouls too much. As the film shows, his fouls stem from being outsmarted by veteran players, pushing too hard or making simple mistakes.

Second, he needs to get a better understanding of the nuances of the game, and learn to apply schemes properly. For example, on the first clip below, we can see him wanting to switch in a situation you should not switch – him fronting Kevin Durant would mean an easy bucket; Kenrich Williams defending Durant on the block could be more troublesome. On the second clip, we see him expecting a help in situation in which it can’t arrive – George Hill can’t commit too much to help because he needs to cover another player.

All those are rather age-related issues, so Hami can overcome them with greater experience and better teachers.

So, all in all, the things that Hamidou Diallo brings to Detroit are no doubt intriguing. It’s not just length and athleticism. It’s also a skill set that paired with the former gives ‘sky’s the limit’ ceiling. However, this ceiling so far stands on a shaky floor. I guess it’s a function of a rebuilding franchise to make itself a shelter between those two, and of a good manager to actively turn this shelter into unshakable house with such bets.

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