The Minnesota Timberwolves chose to keep rookie Gorgui Dieng, the 21st overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft, on the bench in favor of giving Ronny Turiaf the bulk of the bench minutes at center against CSKA Moscow. However, Dieng has been part of that center rotation in the Wolves last two games.
In his preseason debut against the Toronto Raptors, Dieng didn’t have much impact on the game. He saw the floor for only 12 minutes and finished the game with just two points, two rebounds and one block while shooting just 1-3 from the floor. He was by no means a detriment to Minnesota when he was on the floor, he just failed to make his presence known in the matchup.
On Thursday night as the Wolves faced off with the Milwaukee Bucks, though, Dieng got a lot more work with Turiaf sitting out and he certainly made the most of it. Dieng played for 25 minutes and finished the game with only six points on 3-6 shooting. However, he also added nine rebounds and four blocks while he was on the floor.
In the contest with the Bucks, Dieng was exactly the type of player the Timberwolves need him to be in his rookie campaign. Being an offensive big man that puts up a ton of points isn’t in Dieng’s arsenal, but it’s also not what’s going to be asked of him. With the issues the Wolves have defensively on the wings, particularly when they go to their second unit, having a defensive presence on the inside is vital to their success. If Dieng can come in and grab big rebounds while also making defensive plays, that will make Minnesota’s life this season a great deal easier.
Dieng surely won’t be in many Rookie of the Year conversations in the 2013-2014 season, but that’s also not why he was brought to this team. Playing behind Nikola Pekovic, a solid defender and great offensive center, Dieng is in Minnesota to come off of the bench and do the dirty work. That’s what he was able to do against Milwaukee on Thursday and what the Wolves will need him to do consistently in the regular season.
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