Gorgui Dieng is a native of Senegal and came to the United States in 2009 as a lanky 187-pound teenager. Since arriving on Louisville's campus, Dieng has blossomed into a 6'11", 245-pound athletic big man, with the potential to be a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Dieng will likely establish a long career in the NBA as a defensive enforcer in the paint, but if he can continue to develop his game on the offensive end, he could have upside to become an All Star.
In his junior season with Louisville, Gorgui Dieng was the anchor of the defense, establishing himself as one of the premier defensive players in the country, as he helped lead Louisville to a National Championship. Dieng averaged 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game over the course of the season, even after battling through a broken left wrist at the start of the year.
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Gorgui Dieng has taken his game a long way since his freshman year at Louisville. Dieng came to college with a limited offensive skillset, relying purely on his athleticism to score via put backs and transition baskets. Since then, Dieng has taken his game to another level. He can face-up with a reliable mid-range jump shooter, shooting at a clip of 51.7 percent, and has taken his post game to an acceptable level. While still raw on the block, Dieng has proven that he has the potential and work ethic to improve his game further.
Dieng shines on the defensive end of the floor. He was the anchor of Louisville's 2013 National Championship team, making every player better whenever he was on the floor. Dieng was a threat to opposing teams, blocking 2.5 shots per game. While he doesn't jump out of the gym with explosiveness, Dieng still disturbs more shots than any statistic can account for. Gorgui Dieng shines as a perimeter defender, excelling in the pick and roll, something most college big men struggle with.
At 6'11" and 245 pounds, with a 7'4" wingspan, Gorgui Dieng has the body to defend the paint in the NBA. Dieng has put on 50 pounds since joining Louisville but must continue to add muscle to withstand the rigors of an NBA career. Dieng isn't lanky by any means, but is still a bit lean.
Dieng is sure to put up impressive numbers at the NBA Draft Combine due to his leaping ability and speed. On the floor, Gorgui has tremendous closing ability and is able to stay with guards on a switch in the pick and roll. Dieng's athleticism allows him to comfortably defend multiple positions on the floor despite being nearly a 7-footer. Much of Gorgui Dieng's foot speed and balance can be contributed to his upbringing playing soccer.
Gorgui Dieng brings a lot of energy to the court, dives to the floor for loose balls and never seems to quit until the play is over. He's a leader both on and off the floor, and seems to be respected by all of his teammates and coaches. Dieng grew up in Senegal and comes from a close family. Because of his storied background, he is often asked questions that gave an insight into his life. When asked about what's important in life he said, "being disciplined, respecting everybody, enjoy the moment, be humble." In all interviews, Dieng has proven to be a mature individual, which will help tremendously in this transition to the lifestyle in the NBA.
Gorgui Dieng has shown the ability to consistently hit both open and contested jumpers. Despite a wonky shooting stroke, he has developed consistency with his mid-range jump shot. Dieng arrived on Louisville's campus with nothing resembling a jumper but has since has made himself a threat to hit spot up jumpers. According to Synergy Sports, Dieng shot 51.7 percent from mid-range and 60 percent in catch and shoot situations. In this clip, Dieng comes off of a screen, receives the pass, sets his feet, turns around and hits the jumper from the free throw line. The same exact play is run for Dieng in this video. Gorgui has shown strong confidence in his ability to hit shots, which is evident considering his improvements this past season.
Dieng's development as a jump shooter can be compared very much to Serge Ibaka, who came into the NBA without much of a perimeter game but has since extended his shot to three-point range. When Dieng arrived at Louisville, he primarily relied on his athleticism to score baskets inside and didn't have the flexibility to play outside. Heading to the NBA, Dieng brings a quality jump shot that would fit in well in offenses that utilize lots of pick and roll or pick and pop plays for bigs.
From a technical standpoint, Dieng has a bit of a hitch in his shooting form, which is even more obvious at the free throw line, where he shoots only 65.2 percent. However, having an unorthodox shooting form doesn't exempt a player from having success. He has a high release and is unlikely to ever to get blocked on the perimeter. Considering the strides Dieng has made thus far with his mid-range jumper, it's likely that he will make improvements at the free throw line and potentially extend his jump shot range even further.
Gorgui Dieng has made significant strides on the post but still lacks the footwork to be a dependable threat. Dieng can sometimes get sloppy and struggles against NBA-caliber bigs. He looks stiff in his movements and is completely right hand dominant, which allows defenders to predict his moves.
His improvement on the post can't be discounted though. Dieng has developed a nice sweeping hook shot, which could turn into something special if he continues to work on it. In this play, Dieng is confident and has nice footwork when dribbling across the lane to take the hook shot. But for the most part, Dieng is limited to basic moves such as this one.
When grabbing offensive rebounds or receiving passes near the rim, Dieng is an efficient scorer, shooting at a 65.6 percentage close to the rim according to Synergy Sports. Despite a lack of explosiveness, Dieng is able to "find the blue sky" and finish the play.
However, Dieng's lack of explosiveness and fundamentals can sometimes get him in trouble around the rim. In this video, Dieng makes a nice offensive rebound but doesn't finish. Instead of overpowering the 6'0" defender, Trey Burke, he dribbles straight into traffic, doesn't establish the proper pivot foot, gets away with a travel, and then softly attacks the basket. Had Dieng been aggressive from the start, he likely would've been able to draw a foul. In the NBA, he will have a harder time getting away with his size and length alone near the rim and will have to improve his technique to score and draw fouls.
The most impressive attribute of Gorgui Dieng's post game is his passing. Look at this play where Dieng makes a terrific pass to a player open on the baseline. Dieng quickly reads the play, showing the ball as if he were going up for a shot, but instead makes a quick, accurate pass to the open player on the baseline. From the low post, Dieng is able to track players on the perimeter and make accurate passes to them. In this clip, Dieng makes a pass right into Russ Smith's wheelhouse. Gorgui Dieng has an uncanny ability to pass the ball, which is a huge bonus for a player his size.
Gorgui Dieng is very good at setting strong screens for the ball handler. This makes Dieng especially useful in both pick and roll and pick and pop situations. As Dieng moves on to the NBA, this will be a particularly useful part of his game. With Dieng's ability to knockdown jump shots, finish efficiently at the rim, and pass the ball, he could find his niche in this style of offense.
Dieng is an above average post defender with the potential to be a great one. Dieng's length creates problem for the opponent, putting them into difficult positions on the post. Dieng also does a good job of getting physical, pressuring his assignment, and denying post entry passes. In this video, Dieng does a great job of overpowering Mason Plumlee and denying the entry pass. He was aware of the help defense that would've come had the pass been thrown over the top, so he fronted Plumlee, eliminating him from the play.
The problem for Dieng isn't so much what happens before the ball is on the post, but after. Dieng's primary weakness on defense (both in the post and on the perimeter) is his discipline. He bites on pump fakes far too frequently, making him susceptible to quick fouls. Savvy players will understand his weakness and utilize the pump if he is defending them. Even during this play, Mitch McGary merely shows the ball and Dieng leaps off the floor; he's athletic enough to recover quickly but skilled post players in the NBA will expose Dieng, getting him into quick foul trouble. Gorgui Dieng must learn to not leave his feet so easily, as this would take his defense to another level.
Perimeter/Pick and Roll Defense
Gorgui Dieng is a terrific perimeter defender and does a great job of positioning himself to defend against either the drive or the jumper. Because of Dieng's athleticism, his foot speed makes him to be an exceptional pick and roll defender. On the switch, Dieng's length is menacing against smaller players. In this clip, Dieng is matched up against projected top pick, Trey Burke, but manages to stay with him as Burke tries to speed past him on the drive. Dieng's length makes a shot virtually impossible for Burke. Throughout that entire game, things were made difficult for Burke when Dieng was on a switch with him.
Not enough can be said about Dieng's ability to play effectively in the pick and roll. Far too many power forwards and centers come into the NBA with absolutely no knowledge of how to play in these situations, but Dieng shows the understanding in how to make the right play. He hedges well and is able to recover to defend his man. It sure helps that he is so athletic that he can close and disturb the ball handlers or shooters, but more often than not, he is in the correct position to make the best play possible.
Dieng's athleticism and closing speed makes him a fantastic help defender. A lot of Dieng's blocks (2.5 per game) come from his weakside help. During this play, Dieng helps off his assignment and comes from out of nowhere to make the block. Dieng does a great job of anticipating the play and quickly getting into position for the block. Gorgui Dieng's athleticism shows more than anything when he is help defending.
Gorgui was very good, averaging 9.4 rebounds per game as a junior, but he needs to put on more muscle in the NBA. Sometimes he would get pushed around inside by bigger, strong players. While the NBA lacks a lot of true centers, Dieng will have trouble with players more often than he did in college.
On the plus side, Dieng shows excellent instincts and fundamentals on the glass. He boxes out very well and gets into the proper positioning for rebounds. Dieng's instincts show on the offensive glass, as he often reads the play from the outside, and hustle to the proper position for the rebound. If Dieng is motivated to fill out his frame in the weight room, he will become a force on the boards due to his length and fundamentals.
At 23 years old, some feel that Dieng is nearing his peak, but there is no reason to believe that's the case. Dieng has made significant progress in his game since arriving he arrived at Louisville and he has proven that he is willing to improve the weak facets of his game. He has a solid five years before he reaches his prime at age 28 or 29, giving him an amplitude of time to maximize his untapped potential.
Dieng might forever be destined to be a role player in the NBA, but that is not to say he won't be a difference maker on a team. He has the upside to be a lockdown defender and can do what you need him to do offensively, either as the 3rd or 4th option on the floor. Gorgui Dieng is a high character individual that has proven he is willing to learn and take his game to the next level.
How He Fits on the Celtics
If the Boston Celtics were to draft Gorgui Dieng, he would likely begin on his career on the bench, whether or not Kevin Garnett returns. Dieng's greatest value would be there anyway, since he would give the team a defensive anchor to play when Garnett isn't on the floor. If Garnett's minutes were cut even more, to around 26 per game, Dieng would be able to get heaps of experience on the court.
Dieng would have the perfect mentor in Kevin Garnett. Gorgui Dieng seems like a nice, fun loving, easy to get along with individual, much like Jeff Green is. With Garnett in his ear, Dieng could potentially develop that "killer mentality" on the floor, much like Green has this season.
While Gorgui Dieng will never be the defensive player that KG is, he would make for a perfect heir apparent to The Big Ticket. Boston's defense calls for a big man that is exceptional at patrolling the paint, plays strong help defense, and makes the right play in the pick and roll. Dieng is very good in all those categories and should improve elsewhere as he develops.
The question is this: Will Gorgui Dieng even drop to the Boston Celtics at pick number 16? It remains to be seen, Dieng could go anywhere from pick number 10 to pick 24. With so many bigs projected around the same range, nobody will truly know until draft night.
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