Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling every player currently on the Sixers’ roster ahead of training camp, which begins on September 28.
Age: 28 (turns 29 on June 17)
Contract status: First year of two-year, $6.8 million contract
Signed in free agency this past offseason, Niang played four years of collegiate ball at Iowa State before being selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 50th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. The 6-foot-7 power forward only saw the court with the Pacers for 93 minutes during his rookie season, and was subsequently waived the following summer. After a brief period under a partially-guaranteed contract with the Warriors prior to the 2017-18 season, he was waived again, eventually finding a home in Utah in January 2018 on a two-way contract. The Jazz organization liked what they saw across his time with the Salt Lake City Stars and some brief cameos with the big club, awarding Niang a standard contract that July.
The past three seasons saw Niang play a regular role as a reserve for Utah. He upped his minutes per game from 8.7 to 14.0 to 16.0, even starting 10 games for the Jazz last season. He’s a prototypical stretch four, shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc during his career with Utah, including 42.5 percent on 4.1 3-point attempts per game last year. While he hit a cold-shooting stretch last postseason, Niang had an excellent seven-game series against the Nuggets during the 2020 Bubble playoffs, averaging 8.3 points across just over 16 minutes per game, shooting 41.4 percent from 3.
You really gotta give it up to Donovan Mitchell for just being incredible in this series.— T.J. McBride (@TJMcBrideNBA) August 26, 2020
Here Denver shows a soft hedge and Mitchell drives into it. Despite all the contact and defenders collapsed around him, he perfectly hits Niang with a dime for a 3-pointer. pic.twitter.com/9RxcMnJCVm
Season outlook: I’m going to harken back to the Writing & Language SAT days and bring you this analogy:
Georges Niang : Mike Scott :: Andre Drummond : Dwight Howard
Meaning, both frontcourt free agent acquisitions were essentially one-for-one role replacements for the now-elsewhere Scott and Howard. With Niang presumably directly filling Mike Scott’s “bench stretch four” shoes, the Sixers should be upgrading the position by default. As much as we all loved Mike and the Hive, his play had dropped off precipitously the last two seasons, particularly last year. After two seasons of shooting above 40 percent from 3, Scott’s mark fell to 36.9 percent during the 2019-20 season, then all the way down to 34.2 percent in 2020-21. Scott was kind of a “you had one job” guy, and if it wasn’t hitting those open looks from behind the arc, he wasn’t bringing much to the table. In the postseason, he basically (and rightfully) fell out of the rotation, only playing limited minutes in five games across the two series.
So in steps Niang, who has shot 40.4 percent from 3 for his NBA career, not far off what Scott shot in his first abbreviated season when he came over from the Clippers and became a cult hero in this town. Mike-Scott-from-a-few-years-ago was a better defender than Niang, but Georges has a bit more off-the-dribble verve to his offensive game.
Georges Niang has shot 41.3% from 3 on 3.2 attempts per game (8.6 attempts per 36 mins) over the last 3 seasons. He's confident against closeouts, relocates well off the ball, and great from the corners.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) August 4, 2021
He's a nice addition for the Sixers as a better backup 4. pic.twitter.com/YDiwEOLRLl
While I doubt Georges will be getting into fights at Eagles tailgates, showing up to hang out at fans’ weddings, or keeping us on hockey jersey uni watch, if the 28-year-old smack dab in the middle of his prime can just keep doing what he has been doing the last few years, Sixers fans will be happy to welcome him aboard. Maybe we’ll even have the Georges Niang game.