Timberwolves rookie center Gorgui Dieng received his unofficial introductory NBA moment Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas Summer League action when he planted his feet under his team’s basket to draw a charge and was struck by an oncoming Miami player in such a way that every grown man inside Cox Pavilion cringed. When he finally picked himself off the court, his face showed both pain and discouragement that he didn’t draw a charging foul but rather was whistled for blocking the player’s path instead. “I was like, ‘That’s a dead charge,’ ” he said after the Wolves’ 80-71 victory over the Heat, their first in three Vegas games. “I was right there, setting my feet, and he ran at me. But sometimes there’s a bad call.” And sometimes you get hit in a place and in such a way that there’s no response other than to just walk it off, which Dieng did by coming out of the game and walking all the way to the bathroom in another part of the UNLV athletic complex. “He got hit, he just got hit,” Wolves summer-league coach David Adelman said. “Everybody who’s a man has been there. He needed a breather.” Dieng returned to the bench and remained there until midway through the third quarter. That’s when he re-entered the game and delivered his most meaningful minutes in his team’s first three games. By the time his Wolves team had built another big lead — but this time held on to win — Dieng had scored six points, grabbed five rebounds, blocked a shot, recorded an assist and stole the ball three times in 13½ minutes. More importantly, Dieng said he finally felt like he’d found something. “My first two games, I was kind of lost,” he said Tuesday. “There were too many plays for me and I was thinking too much. Yesterday, the coach said I just need to play. I think I start getting adjusted today. I think I’m still adjusting. I’m still learning the game because it is very different from college game. “I just need to get used to it because it is different. That’s why the pros are pros.” And he is a rookie, selected 21st overall out of NCAA champion Louisville in last month’s NBA draft because the Wolves need someone who can protect the rim. They traded the ninth pick for Utah’s two first-round picks, moving down five spots to take UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad 14th overall and, in essence, moving up five spots from their 26th pick to take Dieng because of his 6-11 body, shot-blocking potential, high-post passing and a feel for the game rather unbefitting a guy who didn’t really play basketball in Senegal until he was 16 or 17.
Wolves rookie Dieng gets lesson about pro game
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Jul 17