Gorgui Dieng shows why he is not in the Atlanta Hawks rotation

Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks‘ injury issues got a little bit deeper against the Boston Celtics. First of all on a shot attempt, Trae Young injured his ankle when Marcus Smart took away his landing space and Young landed on the Celtics’ guard’s foot. While a flagrant one was assessed, that does not alleviate the issue of the superstar guard potentially missing time.

Fortunately for the Hawks, Young came back for the second quarter but was a little restricted in his movement and was less effective. That is part one of the story of why Gorgui Dieng showed why he is not in the Hawks’ rotations.

In the second period, Onyeka Okongwu was hit in the face while defending a Celtics drive to the hoop. Okongwu got assessed with the foul despite needing to have blood cleaned up off his lip. He would play a little longer before coming off with his third foul. He went back to the locker room and was not seen again after the halftime break due to being assessed for concussion.

The Atlanta Hawks big man stocks were depleted enough to use Gorgui Dieng

Dieng came on after halftime due to John Collins being out which made the injury to Okongwu so much harder to cover. Unfortunately, Dieng is buried so deep on the Hawks bench that he does not play with the starters enough to have any sort of chemistry. In fact, he plays so infrequently it could be a good move to waive Dieng in favor of another energy-driven player like Justin Tillman.

So, why did I mention Young’s injury before when he is clearly not a big man? That is the second part of the story of why Dieng is not in the Hawks rotation. Given that Young’s movement was hampered and his struggles on defense have been noted throughout his career, he needed his big man to help when he was guarding an opposition player.

This is something that Okongwu and Clint Capela do without thinking. However, when Capela went to the bench, Dieng was the big man who needed to help out when Young was trying to defend the much bigger Derrick White. Needless to say, the Celtics got two easy buckets on these possessions.

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If Dieng does not show a greater defensive intelligence then he is very unlikely to see the court much more this season.