Let’s be honest, this Sixers‘ offseason… didn’t look great. The Ben Simmons situation seems to be improving now, but the last four months have been PAINFUL. I’m talking “watching your friend strike out at a bar over and over again” painful. Almost as hard to watch as the last season of Game of Thrones. It’s really been that bad.
As if they aren’t already stressed enough, fans also had Joel Embiid’s knee to worry about. Then, while many wanted the team to trade their first round pick for an immediate contributor, they instead drafted Jaden Springer, a very talented prospect who will nevertheless take years to develop. As good as he could eventually become, he has only played two minutes so far this year and likely won’t contribute much in 2021-22.
To top it off, the Sixers’ front office did very little to shake up the team this offseason, choosing to leave their core intact and make smaller, fringe moves to improve their depth. They cut George Hill, let Mike Scott walk, and saw Dwight Howard leave them for the Lakers. There are obvious holes on the roster, and the need for a veteran ball-handler has been a glaring weakness through five games.
It wasn’t all bad, though. They signed Andre Drummond, who looks like a really solid upgrade over Howard as a backup center. They also managed to re-sign both Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz to team friendly deals (and the Korkmaz deal looks like an absolute steal so far). However, the best move the Sixers made the entire offseason was one that flew way under the radar: the signing of Georges Niang.
Georges Niang has been the Sixers’ top offseason addition so far.
For years, the Sixers have been in desperate need of a quality stretch big to come off the bench. While Mike Scott was a fan favorite for his personality (and his awesome nickname, the Threegional Manager), it pains me to admit that he just never really got it done in games. His scoring and shooting have plummeted over the last few years with the Sixers, and at times he seemed like the biggest weakness on the roster.
This summer the 76ers signed Georges Niang to a two-year, $6.7 million contract, and the difference between he and Scott is already night and day. Take into account that the sample size is small, but the numbers so far are pretty absurd. Niang is averaging 9.8 points per game, which is head and shoulders above his previous career high. The Sixers’ offensive rating when he is on the floor is a video-game level 134.
We heard throughout the offseason how impressed the coaches and players were with how much he could do on the court, and he’s proving them right so far. He has shown a decent ability to put the ball on the floor and has shown that he’s a solid passer and knows how to find the open man. Most importantly, he’s shooting an absolutely scorching 54.5 percent from 3 on a career high 4.4 attempts per game. He’s going to cool off at some point, but if he can shoot over 40 percent on that level of volume for the season, this signing is a massive steal.
I know what you’re thinking: “Sure, Niang has been great, but he’ll never have a nickname as cool as the Threegional Manager.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Utah Jazz fans knew Georges Niang as “The Minivan,” because he’s slow and not always pretty look at, but he’s reliable. Watch him play and you’ll see that the nickname really does fit. He’s not the flashiest option but he’s there for you when you need him.
The value Niang has provided off the bench for the Sixers so far this season has been impressive, and his signing is a perfect example of Daryl Morey’s reputation for finding quality depth signings without breaking the bank. Let’s just hope he can keep it up for the remainder of the season, and help this team compete for a championship.