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Dieng’s Journey: A Glance at Gorgui’s Timberwolves Career

We fondly recollect what Gorgui Dieng brought to the Minnesota Timberwolves organization on the court, but more importantly, who he was and what he has done for the world at large.

On a quiet Saturday afternoon with nothing but the NBA In-Season Tournament Finals taking place, former Minnesota Timberwolves big man, Gorgui Dieng, announced his retirement via an interview with the San Antonio Express-News.

Despite stepping away from bucket-getting, the 33-year-old will remain with the Spurs’ front office as a “basketball operations representative,” which is a title that was created just for him. According to the piece above, Gorgui’s new role is one that has him focusing on being a mentor for his teammates such as the 2023 number one overall draft pick, Victor Wembanyama. He will also be spending time with assisting the Spurs front office as he learns more about the collective bargaining agreement and contracts.

Those who have followed the Timberwolves in the last decade know his name well. Basketball-Reference has his nicknames listed as the Senegalese Sniper and the more commonly known Trebuchet (In reference to his mechanical, unconventional jump shot form). However, many of us just know him as Gorgs, Corgi, or just G. He was a beloved fan favorite not just because of his tenacious play on the court (Like the time he shoved Chris Paul or tried to fight Devin Booker in the tunnel), but who he was off the court.

We dive deeper into our favorite Gorgui moments, as well as his significance in the Wolves-sphere and the global arena.

Brooklyn Nets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Top Plays, Performances, and Memories

Deing was never a flashy player. The beloved 6-foot-11 big man was able to impact winning with his grasp of basketball fundamentals. G put together the occasional highlight reel play, some of which will be included below, but more often than not, you would have been able to catch him pump-faking for two, setting a hard screen that opened himself or his teammate up for an easy bucket, or “G-enying” an opponents shot off the glass.

The “highlights” compiled below are for the true Wolves Sicko. So, kick back and relax as we take you through some of our favorite plays, performances, and memories from Mr. Trebuchet’s six-and-a-half-year career in the Twin Cities.

(Editor’s Note: If you are reading this on Apple News, please click here so you can view embedded videos important to the analysis, and enjoy the best overall reading experience.)

Dunk vs. Orlando Magic (2/7/19)

To kick this list off, highlighting some of Gorgui’s fundamental abilities seems right. Above we see Dieng sitting in the dunker’s spot, and then once the defense collapsed in on Dario Saric, G rolled around Terrence Ross and found himself wide open for the slam.

Gorgui did this quite often during his time with the Timberwolves. He had an incredible ability of knowing where to be and when to be there when playing off the ball in the paint. He is listed at 6-foot-11 but has some light feet, which can be accredited to his history of growing up playing soccer in his home country of Senegal.

Beautiful Pick Play vs. Portland Trail Blazers (4/1/19)

Continuing on with the less flashy plays, we have what appears to be a random play between Tyus Jones and Dieng in a meaningless early April game for the Wolves. However, the clip above embodies a play that was a major component of Gorgui’s game throughout his career, and we would be remiss not to include it in this list.

Charlie liked to call this play the “pick-and-stay.” After the analytics-driven Mike D’Antoni Houston Rockets teams, players either set pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops to produce to most efficient shots based on analytics. However, during G’s time with the Wolves, he played the exact opposite.

According to CleaningTheGlass, during the 2016-17 season, 34% of Dieng’s shots per game came from the “long mid-range” area, which ranked him in the 97th percentile from that area league-wide. In 2017-18, 36% of his shots were from deep in the mid-range, which slotting him in the 100th percentile. And, in 2018-19, 35% of his shots were attempted from just inside the three-point line — ranking him in the 99th percentile.

The play above encapsulated his feel for the mid-range perfectly.

Pump Fake and Score vs. San Antonio Spurs (1/10/15)

Another area Gorgui excelled at was from deep within the painted area, especially early in his career. Above, you see a pretty play from Deing as he gets NBA Hall of Famer Tim Duncan in the air to free himself up for the easy low-post layup.

Minnesota dropped that game (shocker), but Gorgui was the Wolves’ MVP of the night as he registered 18 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks.

As G was forced to change his role during his career, his low-post shot became less and less frequent as he was asked to take more three-point attempts. However, a good ‘ole Gorgui pump fake and finish in the paint is always a treat to watch.

Career-High Six Blocks vs. OKC Thunder (1/12/16)

I’m unsure who originally coined the phrase “G-enied,” but memories of former Timberwolves color commentator Dave Benz come flowing back when hearing that phrase.

Above are six of Gorgui’s blocks from his career high against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Dieng was one of the better-shot swatters in Timberwolves history, as he rejected a total of 489 shot attempts with the team, which slots him in at 3rd on Minnesota’s all-time blocks leaderboard, right behind Kevin Garnett (1590 ... my goodness) and Karl-Anthony Towns (695).

Trebuchet’s technique, wingspan, and ability to stay on his feet made him the prolific shot blocker that he was.

Eventual Game Winner vs. Brooklyn Nets (12/30/19)

Now, let’s look at some of Mr. Trebuchet’s feel-good highlights.

Another skill of Gorgui’s that was always enjoyable to witness was his ability to rain in triples from the corners. As a player who came out of college being a prolific defender and low post scorer, the corner three-ball was where Dieng was able to develop his offensive game the most during the end of his time with the Timberwolves. He didn’t attempt many from that range, but when he did, the result was more often than not a nothin’ but net make.

Gorgui’s corner three-point make above had the Target Center crowd and his teammates on their feet as it put the Timberwolves up by two points late in the fourth quarter. The Brooklyn Nets were able to send the game to overtime after the clip above, but Minnesota was still able to hang on and win 122-115. The Wolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns that night, so Dieng was called up into the starting lineup. G’s final line score from that night was 11 points and 20 rebounds (one off his career high) in 33 minutes.

Transition Poster Slam vs. Houston Rockets (4/21/18)

Another incredibly hype highlight from Gorgui was his slam over James Harden in transition off a steal during Game Three of the 2018 Playoffs. This play came early in the fourth while the Timberwolves were up big against the Houston Rockets and in line to win their first playoff game at home in over 13 years.

The reaction from the hometown crowd summed up the game-long vibe.

Game-Winner vs. Houston Rockets (1/11/14)

The storyline from this game wasn’t Gorgui’s game-winner. If you can recall, as I am sure you can, this was the game in which Corey Brewer dropped a career-high 51 points and stole the ball six times. This was most likely one of the most random games in Timberwolves' history and one that still holds great memories almost 10 years later.

On top of the game-winner, Dieng, the then-rookie, also correlated 20 rebounds for the second time that season. Ironically, Gorgui had three total 20+ rebound games in his career, two of which came against the Houston Rockets.

Late Game And-One vs. Boston Celtics + All-Time Memory (12/1/18)

Continuing on with the feel-good highlights from Deing's tenure with the Timberwolves, we have an and-one in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics on December 1st, 2018.

This is one of Charlie’s favorite Trebuchet highlights of all time, as he was in attendance for this game and has a vivid memory of getting way too excited along with the entire Target Center crowd. Expectedly, Minnesota went on to lose this game 118, 109.

Prior to tip-off, Charlie and his Mom ran down to Minnesota’s tunnel with a large poster in hand saying, “Let’s Go Wolves.” That poster featured printed-out photos of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Rob Covington, and the man, Gorgui. Charlie was hoping to meet one player and one player only. Late in warmups, Mr. Trebuchet appeared from the tunnel and was on a mission to get some shots up. Gorgui passed every other fan crowded around the tunnel and stopped for just one — Charlie.

G stopped and was going to give a quick signature to Charlie and continue on his way to the court. However, Dieng realized that the then 13-year-old Charlie had tears in his eyes and went out of his way to chat a little longer and give him a fist bump. That experience was one that Charlie, to this day, has not forgotten and one that he holds close to his heart. Every single detail is still fresh in his mind as he looks back on Gorgui’s special time with the Timberwolves.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

All-Time Timberwolves Ranks

Gorgui was a staple in the Wolves rotation during his six and a half season tenure with the Wolves. He may have started less than half of those games, but he still averaged over 22 minutes per game. Dieng was a class act, accepting a variety of different roles. Take a look at how he was deployed:

  1. Back-up Project - 2013: Drafted 21st overall as a backup center to support the Ivory Towers of Kevin Love and Nikola Peković.
  2. Starting Center - 2014: Entered the starting lineup once Love was jettisoned to Cleveland to usher in a new era of young talent.
  3. Starting Out of Position - 2015-2016: With the Wolves drafting their center of the future, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dieng was forced to play out of position at the four next to Towns.
  4. Fringe Back-up - 2017-2019: The Tom Thibodeau era was in full effect, as he signed his retreads from Chicago. Taj Gibson took over as the starting four, while Nemanja Bjelica was given backup minutes. This pushed Dieng to the outer most layer of the rotation.

He began his Wolves career as part of a 2013 draft day trade for Trey Burke, then played until he was subsequently traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for James Johnson in 2020 as part of a three-team deal. Despite his long, twisting journey in Minnesota, not once did he complain about his role. When it was all said and done, the best years of his professional basketball career were had in a Timberwolves jersey. G is currently, and rightfully, enshrined in a number of all-time Wolves records as highlighted below.

  • 3rd in Blocks (489)
  • 4th in Total Rebounds (3,068)
  • 5th in Games Played (498)
  • 6th in Total Win Shares (26.5)
  • 8th in Steals (413)
  • 9th in Minutes Played (11,026)
  • 9th in Effective Field Goal Percentage (.518)

G’s presence is now felt as the player he was traded for, Johnson, was a key salary matcher when Gersson Rosas dealt for Jaden McDaniels and Ricky Rubio. We’d like to think the defensive spirit of Dieng is channeled through Slim’s DPOY campaigns.

2015 BWB Africa Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Life Outside of Basketball & Charitable Work

Gorgui is a special person. There’s a reason why Gregg Popovich stated in the piece above, “He’s one of the all-time favorite teammates of everybody. He’s a great source of experience in the league, and anybody can talk to him.” Dieng’s charitable work is well-documented but not talked about enough. Likely by G’s choice; that’s probably by design. His acts of service aren’t something he does for attention or acclaim.

Some players spend their offseason training. Some spend it resting. Some spend it building their brand globally. All within their rights, for sure. But Gorgui spends his offseason near his hometown of Kébémer, Senegal, renovating and building new hospitals, and raising money to support human rights in West Africa. He was honored with the Offseason NBA Cares Community Assist award in 2019.

I’m not here to make all this money and trying to get my life together and see other people struggle. I’m not saying I’m going to be able to help every body, but I can help the most I can.

Basketball is simple. We do this for fun. I’m very proud of myself for having my own foundation, building hospitals, and helping people. We’ll go to areas that never see water. I’m more proud of myself for going back home helping people for surgeries, for food, touching and changing their lives. I think a successful person is a person who can impact other people’s lives.

I think basketball is very small, but it can open a lot of doors for me, so I’m using it as leverage, using it as a platform, and helping my community and my people and whoever I can.

You can do a good deed today and donate to the Gorgui Dieng Foundation where they will continue to provide access to healthcare and build a sustainable future for Africa: