Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Gorgui Dieng hasn’t seen a great deal of opportunities to showcase his talents throughout the 2013-14 NBA season. Coming into Sunday night’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings, Dieng had appeared in just 42 games this season, playing a meager 6.5 minutes per game. However, that didn’t stop Minnesota from giving him his first career start on Sunday.
Dieng was placed into the starting five largely out of necessity with both Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf sidelined with injuries, but it was the success that Dieng had that was the real story. In 37 minutes on the floor, Dieng finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and five blocks while hitting five of his seven field goal attempts as well.
Through his limited time on the floor this season, Dieng has displayed a number of shortcomings in the NBA game. For a largely defensive center, Dieng still needs work in terms of getting accustomed to rotations, not gambling as often as he does, and having consistent timing when he’s protecting the rim.
However, what Dieng really showed on Sunday night was, more or less, the best case scenario for the development on Dieng. With his length and physical gifts as an athlete, Dieng’s potential lies in him being a guy that can rebound and block shots at a high level while providing a bit of reliable offense while also not demanding a number of touches on a nightly basis offensively.
Pekovic is the guy at the center position in Minnesota, which is the way things should be. As the Wolves look at the end of this year and beyond, though, Dieng could be key in relieving Pekovic and in helping to make the Timberwolves’ poor bench better. He gave everyone a look at what he could be eventually if things go right with his development and showed why Minnesota needs to work to help him grow.