Gorgui Dieng: 2015-16 Timberwolves Player Preview


This is the third piece in a series of articles that will look at each individual player on the Minnesota Timberwolves€™ roster heading into the 2015-16 season. See the links at the bottom of this page for previous players previewed.

Gorgui Dieng was in the news plenty this off-season, mostly because of his incredible play at AfroBasket representing Team Senegal. He led the tournament with 22.9 points and 14.9 rebounds per game, although it ended up being not enough as Senegal finished fourth.

When playing NBA ball, however, Dieng will not be putting up those kinds of numbers. After his first two seasons in the league, Dieng has made a name for himself as a solid backup center.

If you ask me, he’s one of the better backup centers in the NBA. However, due to another Nikola Pekovic injury, Dieng was forced to start 49 games in 2014-15 while appearing in 73. He averaged 9.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, and 1,7 blocks per game in 30 minutes per game.

Heading into the 2015-16, it’s tough estimate exactly what Dieng’s role will be for the Minnesota Timberwolves. As Pekovic continues to recover from the Achilles injury, will Dieng take over as starting center while first overall draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns comes off the bench to begin the season? Or will Dieng be the man coming off the bench to spell Towns?

Regardless, Dieng’s role will be an important one. Where does Dieng need to improve in order to help himself fill the role?


Gorgui Dieng was a bit of mixed bag defensively in 2014-15. As far as protecting the rim, he’s solid. He’s a great help defender and he uses that lanky 7-foot frame to contest shots well.

However, that lanky frame hurts him often when defending players in the post one-on-one. Repeatedly, Dieng found himself getting bullied by bigger opponents in the post and allowing easy baskets. According to nba.com/stats, a player’s field goal percentage increased by 5.1% when Dieng was defending him.

What this means is that teams can easily take advantage of the Wolves if they have a capable scoring center. For instance, players like Marc Gasol, Demarcus Cousins, Al Jefferson and even Dwight Howard will probably have their way with Dieng when matched up with him.

However, as previously mentioned, it’s not all bad for Dieng. He excels at help-side defense and acting as a rim protector for slashing guards and forwards looking to get to the rim. If Dieng could increase his strength just a little bit, he could take that next step to becoming a great defender in this league.


Offensively, Dieng is nothing more than a role player for the Timberwolves. He doesn’t possess the arsenal of post moves necessary to be a consistent post scorer in the NBA.

With that being said, Dieng does have one weapon in his arsenal that has proven to be absolutely deadly through his first two seasons in the NBA. Dieng’s mid-range jumper is money. So money.

Check out his shot chart from a season ago.

One thing you need to notice is his clip from the free throw line and/or elbow area. Seven-footers are not supposed to shoot the mid-range jumper quite that well. Combine that with his 56.3% clip from the right wing area and the Wolves have themselves a serious weapon.

Now, when I say Dieng does have “one” weapon in his arsenal, I mean this is the only real meaningful contribution he makes to the offense, aside from grabbing offensive rebounds (which he actually does pretty well). It’s not a bad thing, though, because there are plenty of other scorers on this team that should take most scoring responsibilities off Dieng.

Statistical Outlook

In all likelihood, Dieng won’t see 30 minutes per game like he did in 2014-15 so his stats may take a bit of a dip. When you add in Towns, Nemanja Bjelica, a (hopefully) healthy Kevin Garnett and a (hopefully) healthy Nikola Pekovic, there doesn’t leave a ton of room for Dieng in the rotation.

Still, I expect Dieng to see anywhere from 20-25 minutes per game for the season. If that’s the case, I can see Dieng contributing something along the lines of 7.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.5 BPG for the year.

For Dieng to continue to be a positive player for the Wolves, he’ll have to maintain his ability to protect the rim and improve his one-on-one defense.

Offensively, if he can add a post move or two in his arsenal it certainly wouldn’t hurt anybody. But for the role he’ll likely be taking on, this may be asking for a little too much. Overall, Gorgui Dieng should be able to contribute as a solid rotation player for this Wolves team in 2015-16.

Other Player Previews:

Andrew Wiggins

Zach Lavine

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