At the beginning of the 2022 season, no one’s future was more uncertain on the Detroit Pistons more than Hamidou Diallo. Hamidou had just signed a contract to stay in Detroit. However the deal was not signed until the end of the free agency period. With the drafting of Cade Cunningham, minutes at guard would be harder to come by. And at the beginning of the season, Diallo dealt with exactly that.
However, as the season has gone on, Hamidou Diallo has been one of the blooming stars for the Pistons. He went from collecting DNP’s at the beginning of the season, to becoming a consistent starter. In a crazy December for the NBA that saw 8 Pistons in health and safety protocols, Diallo got a chance. A chance to showcase what he can do with an elevated role. A chance to play significant minutes every night. And it was a chance that Diallo took and ran with.
But how did Diallo get to this point? How did the young guard carve his role on this team so quickly? A lot of the success Hamidou has seen did not come without its low points and struggles. However, through the adversity, Diallo has shined, and is perhaps one of the core pieces of the Pistons restoration.
Hamidou Diallo’s season was off to a rough start
In the first twelve games of the NBA season, Diallo would only appear in six of them. And during those games, he was playing no more than 15 minutes. Hamidou’s performances were uninspiring at best, so coach Dwane Casey temporarily took him out of the rotation. Being taken out of the rotation is difficult for any player, but Diallo made his frustrations known. During a game in Cleveland against the Cavaliers, coach Casey called for Hamidou to come in the game. As he was getting ready to check in, him and coach Casey exchanged some words.
After some back and forth, Coach Casey had enough and told Diallo to have a seat. A few minutes after the interaction, Troy Weaver took Hamidou back to the locker room. After seeing this interaction, Pistons fans were lead to speculate if that could’ve been the end of the young prospect’s time in Detroit. However, that was never going to be the case.
Troy Weaver traded for Diallo in part because of their connection when they were in Oklahoma City. It was clear that minutes were not going his way, so Weaver decided to give him a fresh start in Detroit. With a new program, a familiar face in the front office, and a young hungry group of guys, this was exactly where he needed to be. And as the season has gone on, Diallo has turned himself into one of the most important pieces on this Pistons roster.
December gave him the chance of a lifetime, and he capitalized.
As the season progressed, the Detroit Pistons saw their fair share of injury issues. It started with the injury of Kelly Olynyk towards the beginning of the season, followed by Jerami Grant’s thumb ligament injury in December. This opened the opportunity for Diallo to join the starting lineup. With the way Hamidou has played, he might not come off the bench for the rest of the season.
Diallo’s role became even more important after the Pistons saw eight of their players enter the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols. Those players included Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and more. The only starters left for the Pistons were Hamidou and Saddiq Bey. They would go on to play the next two weeks as the focal point of their offense, and playing the bulk of the minutes each night.
Hamidou Diallo had multiple explosive performances in the month of December, having consecutive games where he scored 28, 31, and 34 points respectively. In addition to his workload on the offensive end, Diallo started to find an identity on the defensive end. He went on to lead the entire league in steals in the month of December. Diallo is also averaging a career high in steals as well.
Diallo finds his identity
When Cade Cunningham and crew returned from health and safety protocols, Hamidou’s role offensively changed. His role on the defensive end, however, was just as crucial as ever. His ability to guard multiple decisions, force turnovers, and run in the fast break is essential for Detroit. Part of the Pistons success since the New Year has been largely thanks to the role that Diallo has played.
Since the beginning of 2022, the Pistons have won 5 games, matching their win total to start the season. A lot of that is thanks to the increased production of Hamidou Diallo. Hamidou has also been able to increase his production on offense in a way that fits his game. Between his ability to cut to the rim, and his shooting inside the arc, Diallo has been efficient. Even though his three point shot still needs some work, that doesn’t take away from his effect on the game.
What Diallo has been able to do this season, is begin to find his identity in the NBA. A guard with size that can play multiple positions on the court. A high effort, high athleticism player that will cause turnovers and get easy baskets. An identity that fits the needs of the Pistons, and the identity of their restoration. Whether Hamidou Diallo is a Piston long term or not remains to be seen. However, if Diallo maintains his energy on the defensive end, he can have a home in Detroit for a long time to come.