2 players who should be in, 2 who should be out of 76ers’ playoff rotation

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

2 players who should be out of 76ers’ playoff rotation

1. Georges Niang

The consequence of depth is the inevitability of difficult decisions. On balance, Georges Niang has been the Sixers’ most reliable reserve for two seasons now. He occupies a crucial niche offensively for a team built around the heliocentric play styles of Joel Embiid and James Harden. His shooting gravity, in conjunction with Philly’s star creators, is enough to make defenses’ heads spin.

Last season, there was no doubt about Niang’s place in the playoff rotation because there just weren’t any viable alternatives on the roster. He struggled, in part due to injury, but his minutes were baked into the game plan. This time around, the Sixers have more quality reserves who could push Niang to the periphery.

The sharpshooter’s performance level against top-shelf competition tends to fluctuate. On one hand, there are games like Philadelphia’s March 4 victory over Milwaukee, in which Niang scored 16 points and hit 5-of-6 from downtown. The Sixers were +10 in Niang’s minutes — they don’t beat the best team in the NBA without him. Then there are nights like April 4 against Boston; another Sixers win, but one in which Niang went scoreless and registered a -8 while the bench floundered.

Niang might be the most valuable offensive player in the second unit, but defense is at a premium in the playoffs. While Niang has improved defensively compared to last season, he’s still a frequent target of switches in the regular season. That will only happen more frequently in the playoffs. The question is whether or not his offensive value offsets the defensive gap between him and players like Jalen McDaniels or Danuel House Jr. One has to imagine Niang will get a chance to prove himself in the Brooklyn series at least, but don’t be surprised if his leash is short.