Until March, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Gorgui Dieng was being used quite sparingly in his first run in the NBA. The 24-year-old big man played 10 or more minutes in just nine games before March 14. Since then, though, Dieng has started to get solid run with the Wolves and he hasn’t squandered the opportunity in the slightest.
Over his past seven games, Dieng has seen the floor for 30.7 minutes per game. In that increased role, Dieng has put up a wonderful line as he’s averaged 11.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, one steal and one block per game while hitting 57.7 percent of his shots and hitting 72 percent of his free throws, a nice clip from the charity stripe from a big man.
Dieng’s opportunities as of late have largely been due to Minnesota starting center Nikola Pekovic nursing some minor injuries. However, it’s hard to deny that the rookie has done a fantastic job in providing efficient offense, crashing the boards at a fantastic rate, and showing flashes of explosiveness and skill defensively.
To be 24 years old, Dieng is still a raw prospect. However, what his recent increase in role with the Timberwolves has shown is just how wonderful that potential can be if he develops on the right schedule and in the right situation. Even if everything goes ideally, Dieng probably isn’t going to be an All-Star, but there’s no denying that he could possibly be either a solid starting center or an overqualified big man off of the bench in this league.
Dieng still needs to diversify his offensive game and become more comfortable in that aspect. Moreover, he needs to better adjust to the timing and spacing of playing defense on the interior at the pro level. Even with those needed improvements, the Wolves have to see how he’s performed recently and think that he could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the 2013 NBA Draft class.