Gorgui Dieng's Play Showcases Confidence, "Swag"
Move over Swaggy P. Over the last six games, the Timberwolves are getting a look at the man we might start calling “Swaggy G.”
Okay, maybe not. But Gorgui Dieng is proving himself with each passing game as he continues to start for the injured Nikola Pekovic. And G, as his teammates call him, is doing it through his play. He’s confident on the court. He continued to work hard throughout his rookie season regardless of how many minutes he got early on, and when his opportunity came as Nikola Pekovic missed time with an ankle injury, he seized the moment and rallied off five double-doubles in six games—including a the first 20-20 rookie effort in Timberwolves history and another solid 15-point, 15-rebound effort in a 107-83 win over the Hawks last night.
If you ask the Wolves, they’ll tell you G has shown confidence since Day 1. He’s humble, don’t mistake that, but he also felt as though he was ready for the NBA when he left Louisville after his junior year. Behind the scenes, he showcased that confidence in practice. Now, he’s showing the Wolves’ fan base what he can do on a nightly basis.
“He’s got a little swag,” Corey Brewer said, smiling. “He’s got a little swag about himself. I like Gorgui, because J.J. [Barea]’s right, he feels like he can do it and he goes out there and does it. I like the swag.”
[What will Gorgui Dieng, Kevin Love or the rest of the Timberwolves do next? Don't Miss A Moment!]
We talk about the term “swag” from time to time. Fundamentally, it’s confidence. But it’s a little more than that. It is belief that you can face the best of the best on a nightly basis and not only hold your own but help your team win. Dieng comes from that type of winning culture at Louisville, and under coach Rick Pitino you can see the belief he developed in himself and his game.
He brought it to Minnesota and immediately started showing his Wolves teammates he can hold his own. Guys like Barea and Brewer, who have rings, understand the importance of “swag.”
“Oh you need it,” Barea said. “Corey Brewer has it, I got a little bit. G has it, like really has it. So I think that’s something you need. You need confidence—we call it swag but it’s really confidence in yourself and your game, and it’s something that will help you in the long run.”
The Wolves are proud of him for what he’s been able to do with the opportunity he’s getting.
Guard Kevin Martin said two or three years from now we’re going to see Dieng elevate himself to be a really special center in the NBA. He’s been poised throughout the year, Martin said, and he’s been able to produce.
Ricky Rubio agreed. Dieng’s been aggressive, he’s worked hard throughout the year and he’s showcased he can be an effective rebounder at the NBA level.
It takes a certain mentality to translate over the way Dieng has. Earlier in the year, he had trouble staying out of foul trouble. Now, he’s putting up intense starter minutes—he played 41 last night—and is not picking up fouls at such a high clip. Granted, the more physical the opponent, the more difficult it will be. But he’s setting the table for success.
“He’s got that mentality—he thinks he’s the best and he’s going to prove it,” Rubio said. “And I like it. I like it if he works, and he does it. I think he’s going to be great in this league.”
Dieng, in that humble yet confident tone, maintains the same narrative he’s had since he joined the Wolves in the summer. He believes he can be productive, and he’s going to keep working toward getting better each day.
“I choose to be a professional basketball player, and I belong with them. That’s not the first time I say that. It took a lot of effort, it took a lot of sacrifices.”
Those sacrifices are paying off. And it all starts with having the right mindset.
“Confidence is everything in this league,” Kevin Love said. “Once you lose that, you know, you lose a lot of your game.”