When this season started, I think fans had expectations that Mangok Mathiang would come right in and fill the void left by Gorgui Dieng. Yes he is tall, from another country, and is built very similar to Dieng. But there is something people were not thinking about: they are NOT the same person. That may be hard to fathom, but Mangok Mathiang is not a clone of Gorgui Dieng.
Yes I know he had a full year to practice with the team so that means he should be like “sophomore Gorgui” right? I thought the same thing before the season started. Well he is a different person. It may take him longer to grasp certain concepts and apply them on the court. I think a few games into the season when people realized that Mangok still had a ways to go, they gave up on him and pretty much said he will never be Gorgui. Well his numbers this year aren’t too far off of Gorgui’s numbers from his freshman season.
I think he is actually playing decent over the last couple of weeks. For me, as long as he and Stephan Van Treese can combine for a double double, that is all we can ask for. Right now their combined averages are 7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, so pretty close to a double double. Of course the way Montrezl Harrell has been playing recently, it is tough for any other big man to get stats down low.
Anyway, back to Mangok and Gorgui. I think seeing these numbers shows that Mangok is not having a bad freshman season. Now the thing is, Gorgui’s numbers nearly doubled in almost all categories in his sophomore year, so that could be where the pressure starts to mount if Mangok doesn’t vastly improve next season.
Here are the freshman season stats for Gorgui Dieng and Mangok Mathiang. Oddly enough, Gorgui played in 29 games, which is how many Mangok has played in to this point.