NBA African Players of the Year

by Julio Chitunda

The 2014-15 NBA season was cut short for a number of players with close ties to the African continent, still five of them made so much progress that we called them ‘African Players of the Year.’

Even though, Luol Deng and Luc Mbah a Moute had reasonable campaigns, and Golden State Warriors big man Festus Ezeli is competing for his first NBA ring, a group of players bearing the African flag came up with eye-catching performances night after night.

In no particular order, we picked five players who promised to come back stronger next season.

1. Gorgui Dieng

Gorgui DiengLet’s face it, the Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the lowest winning percentage (19.5) in the league as a result of its 16-66 record, but Gorgui Dieng’s campaign in his second NBA season could never go unnoticed.

The Senegalese confirmed what his rookie season suggested by doubling his numbers almost each time he replaced Nikola Pekovic in the starting line-up.

The 25-year-old power forward went from averaging 4.8 points, 5 rebounds and nine double-doubles in 60 games last season, to averaging 9.7 points, grabbing 8.3 rebounds, 2 assists per game in 73 games seasons.

Dieng, who is expected to graduate in Communications next month, finished the season with impressive 17 double-doubles.

For a man who grew up idolising Kevin Garnett, and got the chance of playing alongside his childhood heroe, Dieng has plenty of reasons to believe his hard work stars to pay off.

When asked to put the Timberwolves’ campaign in perspective, Dieng suggested he still has a lot to offer: “We did not have a good season as a team, but I think I got better a little bit comparatively to my first season, “ he said. “It is a long process, and I am jus going to keep learning and trying to get better.”

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