Monday marked exactly a month since Hamidou Diallo made his debut March 26 with the Detroit Pistons on March 26. The 31 days since have been a “roller coaster,” in his own words.
He’s had good games, bad games and been in and out of the rotation while battling injuries. But Monday showed why the Pistons traded for him March 12, two weeks before the trade deadline. He’s a gifted athlete and capable scorer when he settles into an offensive rhythm, as he did against the Atlanta Hawks.
Diallo scored 14 points and made six of his 11 shots during Monday’s 100-86 victory. He broke a two-week shooting slump with a strong fourth quarter, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.
“I would say just the past couple games, like you said it’s been up and down,” Diallo said after the game. “It’s just staying with the process, staying confident in myself, having people around me that’s confident in me. Just trying to get those easy ones to fall. Missing a lot of easy one that’s definitely makeable. And just adapting to everything — adapting to the culture, adapting to our new atmosphere, adapting to the role. It’s all been tough, but it’s been great and it’s been a great learning experience. Trying to turn that page for sure.”
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Diallo didn’t make his debut with the Pistons until two weeks after his arrival due to a hamstring injury that cost him 12 games. Since his return, he’s missed four additional games because of injury management for his hamstring, and right knee inflammation.
All this, while adjusting to his new surroundings. Diallo spent his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder — a team that’s rebuilding this season like the Pistons, after making the playoffs during Diallo’s rookie and sophomore seasons. He’s had to get to know new teammates and new schemes.
Monday showcased how effective he can be on both ends of the floor. His size and wingspan (6 feet 11) enable him to be a versatile defender, and he thrives as a slasher. He can also knock down 3-pointers, though it’s not a consistent part of his game.
Diallo missed his first two shots Monday, but ended up making six of his final nine attempts. He kicked off the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and followed that with an aggressive finish through contact. He also hit a pull-up 2-pointer midway through the quarter.
It ended up being a dominant win for the Pistons, who led by 20 points late in the fourth period and snapped a three-game losing streak. Diallo played most of the fourth quarter alongside Frank Jackson, Isaiah Stewart, Sekou Doumbouya and Killian Hayes.
Diallo was just 6-for-34 overall and 1-for-5 from 3 in his previous six games.
“We’re just really young, we’re still learning and that’s definitely still a focal point for us,” Diallo said. “We’re not going to be a team that comes in every night and score more than our opponents, but we can come in and stop guys. And we feel very confident in that and we feel like that’s something that we can control every night, how hard we play on that end.
“It’s just something that we’re getting better at and learning, for me personally, learning the system has been great. Some things are definitely different that we do on the defensive end from OKC. But it’s been great, it’s been great. We’re getting better and we’re just trying to finish up this year strong.”