OKLAHOMA CITY — Hamidou Diallo will return to action tonight against the Dallas Mavericks per Billy Donovan.
“He’s fine,” Donovan said pregame. “There’s no minutes restriction with him.”
Five weeks ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced that Diallo’s status would be reevaluated after a four-to-six week window. Diallo suffered hyperextended right elbow he sustained in a November 22nd loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was upgraded to questionable earlier this afternoon for tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Donovan seemed less focused with his injury during Diallo’s rehab and more concerned with Diallo’s conditioning during his absence.
“The biggest thing I think he’s trying to do is keep himself in shape,” Donovan said last week during practice. “I think that part was a little bit difficult for him to really be able to do much because his arm was in a sling. But now that he’s got it out and he’s got the ability to run and move and use his right hand some and use his right arm some, that’s been a good thing. We’ve had no setbacks.”
Diallo will have a tall task for his first game back from injury. Luka Dončić — 28.8 points per game — has played at an MVP-level all season. Diallo was tasked with defending the Slovenian supernova back in preseaon. While he showed flashes of defensive improvment from the offseason, Dončić made Diallo pay with some savvy offensive play. Diallo racked up fouls as a result.
“It’s not like anyone is stopping this guy, he’s getting thirty a game. Hami can do a great job and he (Doncic) can still hit shots.”
Oklahoma City has gone 12-5 in the 17 games Diallo has missed. Prior to his injury, Diallo had solidified the pseudo-sixth man position — Dennis Schroder is technically the sixth-man but plays a starter’s role and minutes.
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a featured co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12. For Sooner fans, you can also listen to the “Inside OU” podcast with John Hoover, Rufus Alexander and Brady. Brady is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma class of 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports