Minnesota Timberwolves: On Gorgui Dieng’s improved play

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 01: Gorgui Dieng #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 01: Gorgui Dieng #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Gorgui Dieng has come alive and is playing his best basketball of the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here’s a look at his improved play over the recent stretch.

Gorgui Dieng’s playing time has been slashed since the Minnesota Timberwolves signed Taj Gibson to a two-year contract in the 2017 offseason.

Gibson has been every bit of a great signing, but it’s come at the cost of Dieng’s play.

Before Gibson, Dieng was starting alongside of Karl-Anthony Towns and the former Louisville Cardinal looked like a legitimate starter. Is it a coincidence that his success has started to come with Gibson on the sideline with a left calf strain? Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and he will be able to lace them up in a Timberwolves uniform before the season ends.

Gibson will be a free agent this offseason and it will be interesting to see if the team will look to re-sign him or if he even has interest coming back. For his part, Dieng has been playing with confidence and like the player we saw before the Butler trade.

It all started with the Wolves overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on March 29. In the last five games, he’s averaging 14.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks. On top of that, he’s shooting 62 percent from the field and 40 percent from long-range on one 3-point attempt per game.

He’s scoring the ball and doing it at an efficient rate. His best two games have occurred in the month of April against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Miami Heat. He scored 18 points against the Trail Blazers on 7-of-8 shooting. Against the Heat, he scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

Of course, there’s no denying that his contract isn’t helping the team. At the time of his signing, it appeared that Minnesota came away with a bargain. Even if the Wolves wanted to get out from under his bloated contract, it looks like they would be unable to move him unless they attached assets and took more money back.

If Dieng can keep up this improved play, he would be a huge help moving forward.  By the end of the 2016-17 season, he was averaging 10 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.

However, between this season and last season, he has seen a decrease in production. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.9 assists. It’s a significant drop, but he has been productive in the past and that should be enough to warrant that he can still be one at this point in his career.

Dieng is on the older side of his career being already 29 in just six years in the NBA, and he is a completely different player when he’s confident. Dieng hasn’t been hesitating when on the floor and he’s slinging it from mid-range like he once did. He’s even been putting it on the floor and taking it to the rim.

There’s been a handful of players that have welcome this new version of Dieng and Saric has been one of them.

Also, here’s Dieng exploding.

Here’s hoping there’s more of the above as the season winds down.

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Of course, we’ll have no idea whether or not the team might be trying to move Dieng and his massive contract this offseason. But in the meantime, let’s enjoy his resurgence.