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Updated: April 23rd, 2014 11:54am
Was late surge enough to earn Gorgui Dieng spot on All-Rookie team?

Was late surge enough to earn Gorgui Dieng spot on All-Rookie team?

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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If you're looking for a silver lining from the Timberwolves' at times promising, but ultimately disappointing 2013-14 season, the late breakthrough performance of rookie Gorgui Dieng is a good place to start.

On first glance, Dieng's final stat line doesn't do much to catch one's eye.

Dieng: 4.8 points, 5 rebounds, 0.87 blocks, 13.6 minutes per game in 60 games

But as Wolves fans know, those numbers are deceiving.

Dieng, the 21st overall pick in the 2013 draft, rarely saw playing time in the first three-fourths of the season. When he did, he was largely ineffective, struggling to adjust to the NBA level. That abruptly changed on March 16 when injuries led to Dieng being thrust into the starting lineup. What resulted was the sudden and undoubtedly impressive emergence of the rookie center.

He doesn't have the resume to be a contender for the NBA's Rookie of the Year, but Dieng's late-season breakout should be considered enough to validate a spot on the All-Rookie team.

Here's a look at Dieng's last month of the season:

• Dieng started 15 of the Wolves' last 18 games.

• He posted nine double-doubles in that stretch, averaging 12 points and 11.3 rebounds.

• From March 16 onward, Dieng ranked second among rookies in scoring (12 ppg), first in rebounding (11.3 rpg), second in blocks (1.5 bpg) and third in steals (19).

• Dieng's 27 blocks in the season's final four weeks gave him 50 total blocks for the year - fourth-most among rookies.

Dieng would need a big swing in votes to crack the All-Rookie first team, but with a large diiscrepancy  in production from a widely lackluster rookie class, there should at the very least be a spot open for him on the second team.

Philadelphia's 76ers Michael Carter-Williams is widely projected to be named Rookie of the Year. Beyond Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mason Plumlee all have strong cases for first-team honors.

In 25 seasons, the Wolves have had 14 players make the All-Rookie team. The two best players in the franchise's history -- Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love -- both were second-team honorees (Garnett in 1995-196, Love in 2008-09).

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
In this story: Kevin Love
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