Minnesota Timberwolves: First-half player grades for the Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Gorgui Dieng
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 26: Gorgui Dieng #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Gorgui Dieng

  • Has appeared in 43 games and is averaging 13.9 minutes per contest
  • Averaging 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game
  • Per-game averages are career-lows across the board

Before we get too far into the analysis of Gorgui Dieng’s play this season — and especially viewed through the lens of his hideous contract — let’s acknowledge that Dieng is still a good player, and absolutely deserves to be in the rotation for a playoff team.

That said, Dieng’s role has decreased dramatically over the last three seasons, which has in turn affected his production. Dieng started all 82 games at power forward and averaged 32.4 minutes per contest in 2016-17 before heading to the bench with the addition of Taj Gibson in 2017-18. His per-game minutes allotment dropped to 16.9 last year, and that numbers sits at just 13.9 through the first 42 games of the current season.

Predictably, Dieng’s scoring and rebounding production has slipped, too, from 10 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2016-17 to 5.9 and 4.6 last year to 5.6 and 4.1 this year.

Interestingly, Dieng’s usage rate has ticked upwards this season to a career-high 17.1 percent as teams have been increasingly willing to allow Dieng to shoot mid-range jumpers as opposed to letting Derrick Rose or Andrew Wiggins probe the painted area.

And that would normally be okay with the Wolves, as Dieng was one of the league’s best mid-range shooters spanning the seasons coached by Flip Saunders and Sam Mitchell, and even into Tom Thibodeau’s reign. Dieng shot 44 percent on 2-point attempts from beyond 16 feet over the last three seasons, but that number is down to just 38.5 percent thus far in 2018-19.

Dieng’s overall effectiveness is still relatively high as he remains a good rebounder and finisher around the rim, but he’s struggled to protect the rim on defense over the last couple of years and combined with his slight dip on offense, Dieng has had a disappointing season to this point.

Grade: C+