The NBA Combine is prime time mock draft season. They’re flying off the shelves faster than LaVar Ball hot takes. Usually not all mock drafts are noteworthy, but Hamidou Diallo’s status provides plenty of intrigue.
One minute, scouts are encouraging Diallo to return to school and avoid an inevitable trip to the D-League. The next minute, he’s a first rounder. In Bleacher Report’s latest mock draft, not only is Diallo a first rounder, he’s one spot higher than Bam Adebayo at No. 23 overall.
Nobody has a wider draft range than Hamidou Diallo, who’s flashed lottery-type talent but only at the high school level. His lack of experience, game film and polish will likely turn off the majority of NBA teams. But a few in the first round are bound to be intrigued by Diallo’s explosive athleticism and room to improve.
Upon seeing the Milwaukee Bucks get rewarded for gambling on Thon Maker with the 10th overall pick last June after he similarly passed on college for the draft, more teams could be willing to roll the dice on Diallo’s boom-or-bust potential.
Though he hasn’t hired an agent and could return to Kentucky for his first full season, the NBA is clearly on Diallo’s mind. Should he stay in the draft, look for him to rise following the combine and workouts. We could see Diallo start to leapfrog less sexy juniors and seniors.
Thon Maker might be the reason Calipari doesn’t get a chance to coach Diallo in a game. The 7-footer bypassed college basketball to play about 20 minutes a game in the playoffs for the Milwaukee Bucks and averaged 5.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Still, Maker’s an athletic 7-footer. Those aren’t made everyday. Athletic wings are a dime a dozen in the NBA, which is why scouts want to see what Diallo can do in college before taking a chance.
Also in Bleacher Report’s mock draft, Bam Adebayo is No. 24, Donovan Mitchell is No. 15, Malik Monk is No. 8, De’Aaron Fox is No. 6, Lonzo Ball is No. 3 and Markelle Fultz went No. 1 overall.