The Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves haven't had much to celebrate this season, but they can certainly take some solace in the development of their young talent. Michael Carter-Williams and Gorgui Dieng stood out among the best rookies in March, and the NBA took notice.
Carter-Williams continues to make his case as a Rookie of the Year front-runner. The Syracuse product is averaging 16.5 points, 6.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds, serving as one of the Sixers' lone bright spots in an otherwise tanked season.
Of course, the other bright spot for Philly this month was finally breaking out of a 26-game losing streak. One more consecutive loss would have set a record for longest losing streak in all four of the major professional sports.
The rough month—which ended with a 1-15 record—certainly can't be blamed on Carter-Williams.
This marks the third time Carter-Williams has taken home Rookie of the Month honors this season, and just the first time for Dieng.
Dieng is putting up just 3.5 points and four rebounds per game this season, but he took things up a notch in March, averaging 8.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. The long, 6'11" big man has played an increasingly important role on Minnesota's bench and established himself as a future talent worth watching.
The Timberwolves went 8-8 in March, watching their playoff hopes slip away amidst a sea of continued mediocrity.
NBCSports' Dan Feldman sees Dieng's emergence as a key development for Minnesota, arguing that the organization should now explore trading their starting center to make time for the youngster (and clear some cap space):
They must consider trading the 28-year-old Pekovic, who will have four years and $47.9 million left on his contract. He’s [averaging] 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, a career year. He should still hold value around the league, and Minnesota could use whatever he fetches in a trade plus the possible salary savings to upgrade its roster. Then, Dieng could start regularly.
Whether Dieng is ready for that kind of consistent responsibility remains an open question, but his ongoing development could certainly create options for the Timberwolves.
As they look for some way to hold on to superstar Kevin Love, options are exactly what the Wolves need right now.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!