Olympic qualifying tournaments are happening over the next few weeks, and that means we’re going to get to see Gorgui Dieng play for Senegal in AfroBasket. The group phase of AfroBasket just began and Senegal’s first game was against Morocco. This game was much closer than it should have been with Senegal ranking 30th in FIBA and Morocco at 60th, but Senegal still walked away with a 77-71 victory.
The big story out of the game was how dominant Gorgui Dieng looked for Senegal. He posted a line of 26 points (9-of-18 from the field, 0-of-3 from 3-point, 8-of-11 from the line), 15 rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 35 minutes of play. He did have four fouls and five turnovers, but mostly he proved to easily be the best player on the floor at all times. FIBA posted some highlights of his big day and you can see that he wasn’t shying away from dunks around the basket all game.
Dieng being more comfortable dunking around the rim would be huge for him. Obviously, it’s easier to do it against the Moroccan defense than it is NBA big men, but just having the strength, coordination, and confidence to make that a likelihood rather than a pleasant surprise. He had 49 dunks out of his 259 made field goals last season (18.9%). His rookie season, he dunked 27 of his 113 made buckets (23.8%).
The decline could be totally random. The decline could be that he was asked to do more within the offense rather than just be around the basket and dunk. His field goal attempts in the restricted area went from 58.6% as a rookie to 44.7% last season, and he operated a lot out of the high and mid-post positions. The move that impressed me the most was the one-dribble, three-stride dunk he had against Morocco from the 3-point line.
Regardless of whether or not this competition means anything for him moving forward, it was fun to watch him do so well.