With training camp a week away, the Sixers will be introducing some new and old faces to the fanbase come opening night. One of these new faces will be the 6-foot-7, 28-year-old sharpshooting forward Georges Niang, who previously played for the Utah Jazz.
The Iowa State product was drafted as the 50th pick by the Indiana Pacers in 2016. After being waived by the Pacers and spending some time with the Warriors’ Santa Cruz G-League team, he would eventually be picked up by the Jazz. During his time with the Jazz, Niang would go from being an end of the bench rotation player to a regular season contributor. In his final season with Utah, Niang appeared in all 72 games, averaging 16 minutes and eight points per game on 42 percent shooting from 3-point range on 2.8 shots attempts per game.
What are the Sixers getting in veteran forward Georges Niang?
This newest addition for the Sixers will potentially help benefit Tobias Harris, who played the majority of minutes at the four last season. This was partially due to Harris playing his best at the four position throughout the season, but also because of the lack of backup options with Mike Scott being the primary backup.
As a 3-point shooter, Niang can be a good replacement for Mike Scott who only appeared in 51 games for the Sixers last season. Niang’s height and size allows him to shoot over defenders on the perimeter. Compared to Scott, he has a quicker release, making it easier for him to pull the trigger faster, which will be highly effective for the Sixers — especially Joel Embiid, who needs to be able to kick out to shooters once the double teams inevitably come. With players like Furkan Korkmaz, Danny Green, Seth Curry and Georges Niang all on the team’s roster, Doc Rivers can put out lineups that create space and will have shooters that are more than capable of being 40-plus percent 3-point shooters.
Niang isn’t the most athletic player or explosive athlete, but he is very much capable in dribble handoff situations, and as a pick-and-popper. He demonstrated his talents all throughout the 2020-21 season, in which he embodied being a reliable catch-and-shoot threat, having shot 44.4 percent on catch-and shoot 3s.
One of the biggest concerns that comes with having him on the court is his lack of defense and physicality when guarding on the court, as well as rebounding. Niang isn’t a player who will create turnovers for the team or be physical enough like Mike Scott to hold his own in the paint. He also won’t snag many critical rebounds, which could potentially eliminate the chances of using him as a small-ball center. But, with the addition of Aundre Drummond as the backup center who is known for being a good interior defender and dominant rebounder, the Sixers could help alleviate the pressure on Niang defensively.
All in all I believe that this was an underrated signing for the Sixers that could become a beneficial addition for the team’s offense going forward. For the Sixers to truly be successful, having good shooters will ultimately be the key if they want to make noise in the East. Surrounding Joel Embiid with elite shooting could be scary for opposing teams not only in the Eastern Conference, but around the entire league.