The cynic in me would normally start with how we got here, but that isn’t going to happen on this occasion. What you need to know is that Gorgui Dieng has seemingly arrived for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dieng was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March. That just begins to tell the story of how much progress the 7 footer has made over the course of his first NBA season.
Since starting for an injured Nikola Pekovic (which for the record, is how we got here) on March 16th, Dieng has averaged 11.7 points and rebounds a game (10 games), while shooting 65% from the field and 73% from the FT line! This includes a 22 point, 21 rebound performance against the Rockets – who were without Dwight Howard’s services that evening, but while facing a formidable opponent in Omer Asik. What has impressed me the most about Dieng’s offensive game is that he isn’t just a garbage point scorer; he has legitimate, NBA caliber moves in and around the post, as well as a short jump shot. For example:
Sky hook from Gorgui Dieng and I am making a run to the fridge right now…
— john flesta (@jflesta) March 20, 2014
His offense isn’t what caught the scouts’ attention going into the NBA Draft, where Dieng “fell” to the 21st pick in the draft for the Jazz and traded immediately to the Wolves. If the draft were to be held today, rest assured Gorgui would be a lottery pick based simply off of his production over the past month. Gorgui is/was better recognized for his defensive prowess and that strength and determination is now being seen on a nightly basis for the Wolves. While he isn’t picking up a ton of blocks in the box score (1.0 per game in the same 10 game span), if you are still watching the Wolves this season, you see his active body flying around rim on the defensive end of the court.
Simply put, that is exactly what the Wolves have been missing for years and exactly what I have been yearning for all season. The Wolves have a legitimate third big that brings something unique to the table – an above the rim presence on both ends of the floor. We haven’t seen this in ‘Sota since … you can use context clues to figure that one out or realize that this hasn’t existed since prior to the team trying to combine Al Jefferson and Kevin Love together.
What do you expect out of Gorgui for the rest of the season? Should we expect to see a three-headed monster for the Wolves in 2014/15?