The following post was contributed to FanSided.com by Cam Newton, editor of our very own Louisville sports site. For more news and updates on all things Louisville, be sure to visit Big Red Louie.
Overview of college performance:
Gorgui Dieng is a Louisville Star, but he wasn’t always that. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that people really began to take notice of how good he really is/how great he would become. His freshman year was decent. Not overly impressive, but not sub-par. Some of this is due to the concussion he suffered and the five subsequent games he missed.
His sophomore year was perhaps his, as well as Louisville’s, breakout year. He began to work his way into being an offensive force for the Cards, averaging around 9 ppg, but his role was more of that to bolster the Cards’ defense, which he sure did. He was able to successfully block shot after shot in 2011-2012, being second in the nation in shot-blocking behind only Anthony Davis.
His defense was one of the major catalysts behind Louisville’s terrific Big East Title and Final Four run in 2012. His junior year held many more things for him, as he began to develop more as an offensive player. He began to finally get his mid-range jumper down-pat and he was always his normal self inside the post, willing to take big hits to finish baskets. He was averaging about 10 ppg, as well as hitting about 53% of his shots.
Dieng definitely didn’t earn as many blocks, but his ability to clog the paint and force bad shots helped Louisville win the national title, as well as have the best defense in the nation for 2013. He’s also improved in his ball-handling, as he saw a significant drop in turnovers between his sophomore and junior years.
Dieng’s biggest strengths are certainly his defensive and rebounding prowess. He’s a monster on the glass and he’s proven that over the past two seasons, averaging close to 9 rebounds per game. His size certainly enables him to outrebound many players, as he’s both tall and bulked up.
Defensively, not many players in the draft are as defensively-minded as Dieng. Nowadays, most centers are expected to score as well as anything else. Dieng is able to take teams back to the good old days of post play with his strengths, certainly separating him from other centers in this year’s draft class.
Dieng’s weakness is certainly that he just isn’t scoring well enough for a team to take him highly, as most all lottery picks are looking for players to come in immediately and score enough to win for them. Sadly, Dieng isn’t that type of player. His skill set isn’t geared towards scoring, so that’s what teams will have to know before taking him.
Skill that best translates to the pro game:
Defense will be his biggest skill that will translate well to the pro game. As I stated earlier, NBA teams focus so heavily on having a center that can score, that they forget about fundamentals that make centers great. Dieng’s defensive ability can certainly be appreciated on any team with a good scorer, to relieve some of that scoring burden from him.
What type of player will he be?
Dieng will not be a starter immediately on whatever team that takes him, but he certainly has that potential. We know this from experience. At Louisville, Dieng was not an immediate starter, but through hard work and time, he was able to crack the starting lineup. He’s obviously not an Starting NBA-Caliber center NOW, but give him time. He’s a determined athlete who will do what is necessary to better himself. In my opinion, if he finds his niche in a team that needs a player like him, give him a maybe 2-4 years and see where he is.
Is he an immediate contributor?
As I stated in my previous answer, I don’t think Dieng will significantly contribute in his first season or two. He isn’t ready to be an NBA starter just yet, but he could possibly be 2nd on the center depth chart. He’s got the size to be an NBA center, but he really needs to improve his scoring. If he can, his other skills will follow suit, and he’ll be a starter in no time.
Where is his best fit in the NBA?
I think his best fit is in a team with a deteriorating/nonexistent front court, seeing as that will get him the most playing time because those teams will be desperately struggling to find ways to fill their needs.
Specifically, I can see him getting picked by the Knicks, a team whose best center is the aging Tyson Chandler, and who are in desperate need of a defensive force. They also won’t have to rely on Dieng to score as much, seeing as they have their main scorers in Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith. I think that the Knicks are a great fit for Dieng.