Lonely Wolves: Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng


The Wolves’ off-season has been very entertaining thus far.

Some of the topics that have been up for discussion include: What are the Wolves going to do with the #1 overall pick? Will Karl-Anthony Towns start? Will Ricky Rubio be traded? Did the Wolves overpay Kevin Garnett and should they even bring him back? Will the Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince free-agency signings help improve the Wolves? Will Nikola Pekovic be ready for the regular season? What did Flip’s Twitter rant mean? How much will the Bounce Bros improve during the off-season? Was Anthony Bennett’s Pro-Am with Canada a sign of improvement?

All of those questions stated above have been discussed thoroughly here at Dunking With Wolves throughout the off-season.

Two Timberwolves players that are vital pieces to the squad have been in the limelight this off-season. One of them may start a considerable amount of games, and the other is probably the best bench player and one of the most improved players in the league last year. O

Of course I’m referencing Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, each entering their third season in the NBA.

Because of the Wolves’ roster crunch, Gorgui’s playing time this season might fluctuate. It seems like the plan heading into next season will include Kevin Garnett and Karl-Anthony Towns in the starting lineup, meaning that Dieng will be coming off the bench.

Bringing Pekovic’s minute limit down has to be a priority heading into the fall, too — if he can play at all, that is. But if Pekovic can somehow manage to play a few minutes, he is a more-than-serviceable backup center.

If Pekovic can indeed play some minutes at the backup spot, Gorgui’s playing time could decrease significantly. Dieng does have the ability to knock down a ten-foot jumper which may allow him to play some power forward, but his natural spot is still clearly the center position.

Although Dieng is only entering his third season, he’s older than most players’ entering Year Three. Because of the one-and-done in college, many players enter the NBA at eighteen or nineteen years old. Gorgui played at the age of twenty-four during his rookie year, which means he’ll be twenty-six years old by this season’s end.

Gorgui’s age has many people wondering just how much he will improve. He should be entering the beginning of his best years, so should we really expect him to have a break-out season when we haven’t seen evidence of that? Don’t rule out the possibility that he could start at times, too, with Garnett’s minutes and games limits.

So, what’s the story with Gorgui? He’s a player who might see thirty-six minutes some games, and eight minutes the next.

And what’s happening with ‘Bazz?

Shabazz became everyone’s favorite topic his rookie season when the Wolves’ bench was absolutely horrendous. Shabazz didn’t see much time under then-coach Rick Adelman and it frustrated a lot of fans, especially when he had a breakout game against the Phoenix Suns.

Shabazz improved mightily his second season, at least in part due to his intense training regimen in California. Muhammad would have no doubt been considered for the Most Improved Player award following the 2014-15 season if not for a torn ligament in one of his fingers.

So, what has Shabazz done this offseason? He went back to his insane training in California, of course.

Depending on certain factors (injuries), Shabazz could even be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year. In fact, I’m going to make a bold prediction right now and say that he will win the award.

Muhammad is a beast offensively, especially on the glass. He has shown the ability to score in multiple ways, too. His three-point shooting has improved and his quickness has also improved due to his weight-loss. Shabazz also has the unteachable skill of versatility. He can play some shooting guard, small forward, and small-ball power forward.

Gorgui and Shabazz are two important pieces of the team that at times have been put on the back-burner during the Wolves busy off-season.

Enjoy your 15 minutes of off-season fame, guys!

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