Our 2021-22 Atlanta Hawks Player Review series continues with a look at the season of center Gorgui Dieng.
Last offseason, the Atlanta Hawks were looking for some depth at the center position with the news that Onyeka Okongwu would miss some time due to a shoulder surgery that he had. The free agency pool at the position was scarce, but the Hawks found somebody that could be a nice addition to the team.
The Hawks signed Gorgui Dieng, a center who has the ability to step out of the paint and hit shots from the perimeter. That would add another dynamic to the Hawks offense, as Okongwu and Clint Capela are your traditional center.
The biggest question for Dieng was what would happen when Okongwu came back from, and what would his role look like moving forward.
Of course, Dieng saw most of his playing time during the start of the season coming in to relieve Capela. He was solid in those minutes, and it looked like he had the backup spot on lock until Okongwu came back and was settled in.
Outside of being able to stretch the floor, Dieng was a solid passer for a center as well, setting up his teammates for good shots and putting pressure on the opposing defense.
After a few months, Dieng’s minutes began to decrease game by game. With the Hawks not having much success through the first part of the season, Nate McMillan decided to play more of Danilo Gallinari or John Collins at the five. With Gallinari, they were getting a better shooter, and Collins was the pick-and-roll partner that Trae Young needed.
That left Dieng on the outside looking in, and he only saw minutes during garbage time of games.
Once Okongwu came back, Dieng was completely out the rotation, and played the emergency role on the team. He was still a fan favorite, and once he came in during the end of the games, he would make a three and the home crowd would cheer loudly. Look over to the Hawks bench, and they would be just as excited to see Dieng hit a three.
Heading into this offseason, Dieng will be a free agent, and it's not for certain if he would re-sign with the team, or try to find somewhere he would play more minutes. Minutes wise, this was the less he played in his entire career, and he’ll most likely see an uptick if he decides to sign elsewhere.