‘He played with great force’: Ousmane Dieng impresses with a career night

Ousmane Dieng continued a hot run of late and produced a career night on Sunday to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the San Antonio Spurs on the road.

Dieng produced 17 points and eight rebounds in the 102-90 win as the Thunder improved to 33-35 on the season. He finished by shooting 7-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range, in 27 minutes of action off the bench.

The 11th pick stayed aggressive throughout the contest and found success getting into the paint and finishing at the rim. The Spurs didn’t seem to have an answer for him as he was 5-of-7 in the restricted area.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault liked his aggressiveness.

He was on the gas. He played with great force tonight, even coming up the floor a couple of times. We’re still building and he is such a young player — he missed a lot of time — so he is really in the early stages of his development but he is learning the type of thrust you have to play with to be effective in an NBA game and he is working hard at that. I give him a lot of credit.

Dieng is averaging 5.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 25 appearances this season with the Thunder. He missed over a month of action due to a wrist injury and has even spent time in the G League, but is emerging as a key player of late for Daigneault.

He has played in each of the past six games and is averaging 10.7 points, five rebounds and one steal over that stretch. He has scored in double figures four times and is shooting 47.1% from the field.

Dieng is looking to build on his performance on Sunday.

I think I played hard. I’m trying to get better every day so I think that was good in terms of toughness. I can probably do something better on defense like get my hands out. That is how I’m going to get better and I’m just trying to do that every time I can.

The Thunder have relied on their draft picks — Dieng, Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams — extensively this season. The trio has helped the Thunder to a turnaround season as the team claimed 10th place in the play-in race with the win.

The final 14 games of the season should prove to be highly beneficial for the team as it plays meaningful basketball this late in the year. It will be worth watching how the young roster can perform with a potential playoff berth on the line.

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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire