Minneapolis/St. Paul – The NBA today named Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng as its Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of March. Dieng is the fifth player in franchise history to earn the award, joining Ricky Rubio (January 2012), Kevin Love (March 2009), Randy Foye (December 2006) and Stephon Marbury (January 1997).
Dieng, a 6-11 center, averaged 8.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game during the month, including averaging 12.1 points, on 64.5% shooting, and 12.0 rebounds per game over the month’s last nine contests (six starts). Filling in for an injured Nikola Pekovic, Dieng made his first career start on March 16 and tallied then-career highs in points (12), rebounds (11) and blocks (5) to record his first career double-double. He became the first player to record 10+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ blocks in his first NBA start since Elden Campbell in 1991.
He followed that performance with double-doubles in each of his next two games, including recording new career highs in points (22), rebounds (21) and assists (4) on March 20 at Houston. In doing so he became just the fifth player in Wolves history to record a 20-point/20-rebound game and the sixth player in the NBA to record a 20+ point, 20+ rebound game within his first three career starts (Dave Cowens, Larry Smith, Terry Cummings, Roy Tarpley and Enes Kanter).
On March 24, Dieng posted 11 points and 17 rebounds (seven offensive), and two days later he followed up with 15 points and 15 rebounds in a career-high 41+ minutes, his third game in a four-game stretch with 15+ boards. Since making his first NBA start on March 16, Dieng ranks fourth in the NBA in rebounds per game (12.0 rpg).
Originally selected by the Utah Jazz with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Dieng was acquired by the Wolves in a draft day trade. The University of Louisville product is averaging 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game this season, ranking first among rookies in rebound percentage (19.8%) and T-4th among all NBA players in rebounds per 36 minutes (13.7).