The Oklahoma City Thunder have sent Ousmane Dieng to the NBA G League to play for the OKC Blue as part of his developmental plan. This is partly due to the rotation getting crowded with the return of veteran forward Kenrich Williams returning to the fold and in part due to Dieng needing to pick up a unique skill.
Last season, the OKC Thunder sent Dieng to the OKC Blue to learn to play with more “offensive force,” Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault told Thunderous Intentions. This go around, Daigneault said the goal is to learn to play in “short spurts,” which will be his role for the varsity club.
Ousmane Dieng is playing some of his best basketball with the OKC Blue, trying to learn a new role.
Ousmane Dieng started the year playing some decent minutes for the varsity club. A mixture of the G League not beginning yet and injuries in the front court boosted Dieng up the ladder for Mark Daigneault’s rotation.
He even saw a game against the Pistons where he went for ten points on perfect shooting, logging 18 minutes, dishing two assists, and hauling in a rebound in the win for Oklahoma City.
Dieng was sent down to the NBA G League once Kenrich Williams returned from the injury report, and he had a task to focus on. While it sounds easy, it is hard to learn to play in those short spurts, but Mark Daigneault highlighted that is how he will be used with the Thunder.
This is a very difficult concept for some young players to master, to come in cold and be ready to go when their number is called. In his first stint of this in the G League, Ousmane Dieng is playing some of his best basketball.
His ability to hang around the rim and use his frame and physicality to create advantages when scoring and rebounding, with his shot coming around and defense helping lead the charge for the Blue, it is easy to see why Dieng was a lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
In the NBA G League, Ousmane Dieng is averaging 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block per game. Dieng is finishing at the rim at a 60 percent clip. The 11th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is shooting 41 percent on spot-up attempts.
Defensively, Dieng is limiting his matchups in the half-court to a lowly 35 percent shooting from the floor.
While this is a small sample size of just three games for Dieng, five for the Blue in total, it has been an encouraging change for the second year forward. His progression will be monitored closely as the G League season continues.