So how did every University of Louisville fan’s favorite NBA player fare during his third season with Minnesota Timberwolves?
That would be Gorgui Dieng, of course.
Dieng, who left UofL following the 2013 NCAA championship, continued to improve. He posted his best numbers thus far, playing in all 82 games for Minnesota, in 39 of them as a starter. He averaged 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Britt Robson, who covers the Timberwolves for MinnPost.com, wrote, “He is exceptionally bright, having passed his SAT test six months after learning English with a score that was 400 points above the requirement needed to attend college. And he is exceptionally competitive.”
“What stood out immediately was that he played hard and made every effort to guard his man,” remembers Wolves general manager Milt Newton, who first saw Dieng as a teenager at the Basketball Without Borders clinic in South Africa a few years ago. Today, Newton says, “I think he competes as hard as anybody in the league.”
Despite playing through hip problems, Dieng finished strong in a 144-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the final game. He turned in 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks while hitting seven-for-eight from the field, including two-of-two behind the 3-point line. His best overall game came in a 112-105 win over the Chicago Bulls in early February. He finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and a block.
Unfortunately, Minnesota wound up with a 29-53 won-lost record, putting them in the basement of the Northwest Division of the NBA’s Western Conference.
The Timberwolves fired coach Sam Mitchell following the season. This week they announced the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, who coached the Chicago Bulls for five seasons, as President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach.
Gorgui is currently reported to be deciding whether to play this summer for the Senegal national team in a bid for the Olympics or taking some time off to allow his ailing hip to recover.