Gorgui Dieng will have a different role for the Wolves in 2017-18, but don’t expect him to be any less valuable to the squad.
Dieng will come off the bench after starting 82 games last season with the team signing Taj Gibson this offseason.
The move wasn’t made necessarily because Gibson is better than Dieng. Dieng fits the second unit better with his ability to score and stretch the floor, something the starting five already has with Karl-Anthony Towns. Gibson in part then gives the starting unit more defense.
Dieng has started 185 games in his career while coming off the bench in 112. While his per game numbers are down, that’s because his minutes per game dips rom 32.3 as a starter to 17 as a reserve. I would expect Dieng to play more than 17 minutes off the bench for the Wolves this season.
In three preseason games, Dieng averaged 11.3 points and a team-high eight rebounds per game in 21.7 minutes per game. Those numbers are eye opening considering Dieng averaged 10 points and 7.9 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game as a starter last season.
By coming off the bench, Dieng’s role offensively grows without Towns or Andrew Wiggins on the court.
Something else to keep an eye on for the fifth-year post player is his 3-point shot. Dieng attempted 43 career 3-pointers last season, up 16 from his previous three seasons combined. He connected on 37.2 percent of his shots. Obviously, that’s a small sample size, but coach Tom Thibodeau has made it no secret this offseason that he’d like to see the Wolves take more 3-pointers this season and that includes Dieng, most likely from the corner.
Wednesday night against the Spurs will mark Dieng’s first game off the bench since Jan. 25, 2016. Don’t be shocked to see his numbers improve even with him coming off the bench.