Sixers free agency 2021: Grading the Georges Niang signing

Georges Niang, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Georges Niang, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite the existential dread wrapped around the Sixers organization at the moment, this free agency period has yielded a couple nice pieces. Andre Drummond signed on a minimum contract. Not long ago, he was a nightly 20-20 threat. Then, Georges Niang signed for a very affordable two years, $6.7 million, maintaining the Sixers’ cap flexibility while upgrading the backup four spot.

Niang is the heir apparent to the “Mike Scott role,” whatever that entails after last season. Doc Rivers eventually went away from Scott in the playoffs, but for much of the regular season, the King of the Hive somehow managed to carve out minutes on a regular basis. That was despite Scott’s consistently mediocre play.

Some of Scott’s problems are also Niang’s problems. Neither is a particularly great defender. Also, Scott as a small-ball five at least passed the smell test, if not the eye test. Niang doesn’t quite offer that versatility, even if he can masquerade as a three in some lineup configurations.

All that said, this is an overwhelmingly positive move for Philadelphia.

How does the Sixers’ signing of sharpshooting forward Georges Niang grade out?

Niang’s bread and butter is the 3-point shot. Last season, he drilled 42.5 percent of his 4.1 attempts per game from deep. He has spent the last three seasons over 40 percent from 3, and is a career 40.4 percent marksman. His deep range and quick trigger will make him an easy fit next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, should the latter return.

Listed at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, Niang has a strong frame defensively. He can handle the same matchups Mike Scott did, though the Sixers would be wise to keep him out of space and away from switches. Given the versatility elsewhere on the roster, Philadelphia can mask Niang’s one-position limits.

More. Grading the Andre Drummond signing. light

In addition to his 3-point shot, Niang is a pretty smart off-ball player. Where Mike Scott camped out on the 3-point line, Niang can do damage as a cutter. He moves into open space, sets timely screens, and does the little things to keep the offense rolling.

Niang was a rotation piece for the one-seed Jazz, a good sign of his potential to contribute in Philadelphia. The Sixers are an even better fit, given the reliance on spacing around Embiid and Philadelphia’s superior perimeter defense (pending the Ben Simmons thing, of course).

The Sixers still have enough money to sign another impactful free agent or two, and some veterans could desire Philadelphia on a minimum contract, a la Drummond. Philly could use some more defense in the second unit –m a weak point Niang does not strengthen — but as one of what should be multiple signings to come, he is a strong value at roughly $3.3 million per season.

Final grade: B

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