I’m a firm believer that late in the Draft, whether it be the late first or early second round, teams should draft for need. Swing for the fences in the lottery; go for the “best player available” if that’s what the organization needs to do.
However, outside of the Top-20 picks or so, completely different story. Positional need, skill-set need, and situation are determining factors that should be weighed before selecting a young prospect.
As we all know, the Magic were awarded the sixth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Regardless of what the Magic decide to do with that pick, one fact remains.
The Orlando Magic ranked 28th out of 30 teams last season in three-point percentage (35%). The Magic also finished 25th in the NBA with an Offensive Rating of 105.2 in ‘17-’18.
These playoffs have reminded us (if we didn’t already know) that successful teams in the NBA can never have enough help on the wings. Players that can stretch the floor, score, have versatility to play multiple positions, and have the ability to handle the basketball (as well as make plays for others) are wanted commodities by NBA front office executives.
The Magic own the 35th and 41st picks in this draft, and there’s a very good chance they can use one of these picks to add wing-depth, shooting, and scoring to the roster.
And I think the wing depth in this class is most plentiful in the 25-45 range, so the Magic are in a great situation to have a look at guys like Gary Trent Jr., Rawle Alkins, Melvin Frazier, and Jerome Robinson.
I believe the Magic should take an opportunity in this spot to target their guy who can become a contributor from the wing and compliment core pieces already on the roster. If he’s not going to be there at #35, they can try packaging their two picks in an effort to move up (into the 25-30 range for example). The Magic also have Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, two players with expiring contracts, to work with.
I’m going to provide pieces that take a deeper look at the kind of “wings” the Magic should be targeting in an effort to rebuild their shooting guard/small forward depth.
Lastly in this series, I profile a couple guards hailing from two of the major blue-blood programs in college basketball that have taken very different paths to arrive at the place they currently find themselves.
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Hamidou Diallo (19 years old)
6-5.5, 200 lbs. (6-11.5 wingspan)
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Hamidou Diallo was a mystery prospect last summer that jumped his way onto the scene with a strong showing during the athletic testing at the NBA combine. He seemingly did himself zero favors by returning to Kentucky last summer. Diallo, who declared for the ‘17 NBA Draft, decided to withdraw his name and return to Kentucky for the ‘17-’18 season.
Diallo was a January enrollee at Kentucky in ‘17, so this past year was technically considered his freshmen season. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and played for Team USA (U18) at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2016.
How could Diallo potentially help the Magic?
Athleticism & Defensive Upside
Diallo recorded an eye-popping 44.5-inch max-vertical leap at last year’s combine (best at the event, four inches more than Donovan Mitchell). With that kind of precedent already set, it’s easy to understand why many people were underwhelmed by Diallo’s showing during the athletic testing at this year’s combine (40.5-inch max-vertical).
I’m not sure if his measurement last year was inaccurate, or perhaps he just had an off-day this past month. Regardless, it’s safe to conclude that Diallo is an elite NBA leaper.
Diallo also finished in the top-10 at the ‘17 combine in the shuttle run, lane agility test, and the three-quarter court sprint.
The Queens native also projects as an NBA prospect with long-term defensive upside. He possesses a near seven-foot wingspan to go along with an 8-7 standing reach. Diallo’s combined 1.8 steals & blocks per/40 numbers aren’t exactly prolific, but his potential is there as a perimeter defender.
Diallo has the agility, he has the length and reach. But he’s not particularly strong at this point. If Diallo is going to make it in the NBA, it’ll be because his defensive upside “hits” in the right organization. I envision Diallo being able to contribute in a similar type role as Andre Roberson, surrounded by other ball-dominant scorers.
Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz, two draft experts who write for ESPN (formerly of Draft Express), recently put together a piece about second round sleepers and steals to watch. Givony and Schmitz described Diallo as “the prototype for what NBA teams are looking for at the wing position.”
“Diallo’s defense was inconsistent, but he improved as the year moved on; late in the season, Diallo had some remarkable stretches where he looked like one of the best wing defenders in the college game,” Givony and Schmitz wrote.
Shooting/lack of efficiency
Diallo was kind of an offensive disaster at Kentucky. It got to the point at various times throughout the year where it was difficult for Coach Calipari to keep him on the floor. His defensive impact wasn’t enough to offset his lack of shooting/scoring, and that was at the college level against lesser players.
Diallo’s shooting form needs to be refined. He seems to be the classic high school talent that was able to get by due to his world-class athleticism (without ever properly developing a repeatable jump-shot).
Diallo shot under 43% from the field, below 46% on two-point attempts, sub-34% on three-point attempts, and 61.6% on free throw attempts. This all resulted in a true shooting percentage under 50%, which is a pretty major red flag for me (1.3 OBPM).
Sloppy Secondary Offensive Skills: Ball-Handling & Decision-Making
Diallo just needs more time. At this point in his development, he doesn’t have a tight handle (which really limits his athletic upside). Diallo posted an assist percentage of 9.5% last year (2.0 assists per/40); he failed to record an assist in 14 of Kentucky’s 37 games. He’s not going to be an option for a team to initiate pick-and-roll action at this point. Outside of dunks in transition, I don’t really see an offensive role for Diallo in the NBA right now.
Givony and Schmitz wrote that “(Diallo’s) feel for the game leaves a lot to be desired, as evidenced by him averaging more turnovers than assists this season, a testament to his unrefined ball-handling ability and court vision. He won’t even look at the basket at times and makes poor, baffling decisions at (other) times.”
But he’s only 19, he still has time to try and develop/refine some of his fundamentals. That’s what the G-League is for.
Reader’s Choice: OPP FanPost Poll
Grayson Allen (22 years old)
6-4, 200 lbs. (6-7 wingspan)
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Was there really any other possible way to end these draft prospect evaluations? It seems like I’ve been writing about Allen forever. It has been three years in fact; I’ve featured Allen a couple times in my annual “Sixteen Prospects to Watch in the Sweet Sixteen” piece.
In many ways, Allen is the antithesis of Hamidou Diallo. With Diallo, teams are banking on his upside, potential, and opportunity to grow at the NBA level. In Allen, “what you see is what you get”. There aren’t too many prospects in this draft that have played in over 140 career games at the collegiate level.
Allen, a McDonald’s High School All-American (and slam dunk champion), had a relatively quiet freshmen season until the ‘15 NCAA Tournament. Allen exploded in the National Championship game, scoring 16 points off the bench to lead the Blue Devils to a title.
Allen rode the momentum he created with his play in the tournament into his sophomore season, a season in which Allen earned All-ACC First Team honors (21.6 pts/g).
Unfortunately, a lot of what Allen has accomplished in his career at Duke will forever be overshadowed by some of the antics he displayed on the court during ACC play. Legitimate maturity concerns arose regarding Allen after two separate in-game tripping incidents led to the Jacksonville native earning a conduct reprimand from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
After weighing whether he should declare for the NBA Draft in 2016 or not, Allen ultimately chose to return to Duke for his junior season. However, Allen again let his emotions get the better of him during a game in December of 2016 (tripping an opposing player again).
This time around, Coach “K” suspended Allen indefinitely, which ultimately cost him only one game before he was reinstated.
Allen is now a 22 year old graduate who’s presumably ready to put a lot of his past behind him. There were some really good moments for Allen at Duke (Top-5 in ACC History: Points Produced, Offensive Rating, Offensive Win Shares, OBPM), as well as some real cringe-worthy moments.
How could Allen potentially help the Magic?
Allen’s best collegiate season shooting the basketball occurred during his sophomore year at Duke (23.7 PTS per/40, 2nd in ACC). Allen posted career highs in ‘15-’16 in the following categories: PER (26.1), TS% (61.6%), Points Produced, OBPM (9.0, led ACC), Offensive Rating (128.5), and three-point percentage (41.7%, led ACC).
While it could be considered concerning that Allen’s numbers took such a major hit during his junior year, I kind of dismiss his numbers that entire year to a certain extent (because of the maturity issues Allen was working through). Allen enjoyed a bounce-back senior year, and many of his career shooting efficiency figures settled-in at very strong clips (Career: TS% of 59%, OBPM of 7.4, 20.2 PTS per/40, 3PT% of 38%). Allen was also an 83% free-throw shooter at Duke over his four-year career, which is very encouraging.
Allen won’t turn into the shooter in the NBA that another Duke alum, J.J. Redick, has become, but he’s still solidly above-average. I think Allen shoots the ball with good lift and balance. His release and follow through is quick and effortless; just a really nice looking stroke shooting the basketball (both off the dribble and coming off screens).
Allen will be a guy that comes off the bench in the NBA, and I think he will be capable (eventually) of helping a team win a game here or there because he could get hot and provide volume scoring . Allen scored 20 or more points in a game on 40 separate occasions during his career at Duke (he scored 30+ points in a game six different times).
I think Allen will provide a team that drafts him with a bit more complimentary offense than most people expect. Allen played point guard at Duke for brief stints at a time and he’s been able to successfully add play-making skills to his offensive arsenal each year. Allen has a strong handle compared to other collegiate off-guards; his ball-handling will be useful initiating pick-and-roll offense on an NBA second unit.
Defenders, who must respect Allen’s shot, can’t closeout on him too aggressively. If so, this is where Allen can use is dribble-drive skills to create kick-out opportunities for teammates.
Behind Luka Doncic, Allen absolutely should be in the conversation regarding this draft class’ best wing passer (4.4 assists per/40 in his career, AST% just under 20%). Allen dished out six or more assists in a single contest 27 times in his career.
The NBA is well within an era of “one-and-done” prospects that spend minimal time developing their games on college campuses. So coming across a prospect like Allen, who has seemingly been in college forever, is fairly rare. It’s understandable to think that a prospect at 22 years of age has less upside than a teenager, but I don’t necessarily buy it.
Allen is 22, he’s not on Social Security just yet. He still has room to grow, I don’t think his age affects his perceived “upside” that much.
Now his 6-7 wingspan? Well, that’s a different story. Allen doesn’t possess above-average height or length for an NBA wing, and that’s something that certainly could hinder his long-term upside at the next level.
I use the word “reputation” because I think Allen’s rumored defensive woes are mildly exaggerated.
I’m not crazy about his lateral quickness and potential ability to stay in front of NBA defenders, or at least I didn’t think I was from watching him play for nearly a half decade. And then Allen went to the NBA Combine and posted the best lane agility time at the entire event (10.31 seconds).
Allen also finished top-10 at the combine in the shuttle run (3.04 seconds) and max-vertical leap (over 40 inches).
He’s a smart team defender that has some awareness (he did finish second in the ACC in steals last season). Clearly (combine testing results his rumored complete lack of agility is grossly incorrect. Allen also possesses a moderately solid frame. If anything, Allen has probably given up some agility over his four year career as he’s added bulk/strength.
Allen is never going to be an elite defender in the NBA, or even a good one. He has less than preferable length, and simply struggles on an island when he’s forced to keep his man in front of him (for whatever reason).
There you have it, two very different prospects to close out my summer NBA Draft evaluations. In Diallo, a team is drafting a product that “requires assembly”. There are some parts somewhere in the box, but they need to be put together with care.
On the other hand, Allen has been collecting dust on the showroom floor. He’s ready for the NBA “as is”. An NBA playoff-caliber organization (Utah, Indiana, Portland, Golden State, Boston, Philadelphia) would be wise to nab Allen at the back-end of the first round.
The Magic brought Hamidou Diallo in to Orlando for a workout last week, so there’s at least some interest there in the former Kentucky guard.
I just wanted to reiterate one more time how much I enjoyed providing these draft previews for everyone. Thank you for reading them, and for all of your thoughtful comments. I ended up profiling ten total prospects (including Diallo and Allen) this summer that should be selected somewhere in the 25-45 range Thursday night. You can find my other Draft “Deep Dives” below:
Aaron Holiday, Jalen Brunson, Jevon Carter, Elie Okobo, Shake Milton, Josh Okogie, Khyri Thomas, Landry Shamet