Georges Niang may be a Boston-area native but he showed signs of being a “Philly guy” in his introductory presser for the Sixers.
One of the more surprising moves this offseason was the addition of former Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang. The 28-year-old is a career 40.4% three-point shooter and could prove to be the stretch forward the Sixers have been in desperate search of. The stocky sniper is affectionately referred to as “The Minivan,” and is a prime candidate to become a fan-favorite in Philly.
At 6’7, Niang is slightly undersized for a big man role, but he uses his body effectively. His ability to play the small-ball center may be limited, but he should be a seamless fit next to Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond. This should give Tobias Harris, who led the Sixers in minutes last season, a needed break in a way that Mike Scott was unable to provide. Georges Niang met with reporters for the first time as a member of the Sixers yesterday and gave a peek into his potential fit with the team and his decision to sign with Philly.
Love for Philly
Despite growing up in Boston, Niang clearly expressed his respect for Philadelphia and the passion of the fans. When asked about what attracted him to Philly Niang put it:
“If you do it big here and win a championship you’re taken care of forever.”
He spoke with enthusiasm about the passion of the Philly fans and also stated:
“Nothing’s more exciting than being able to come and compete for a championship in a city that loves its sports like Philadelphia.”
The former Iowa State Cyclone showed no concern for his family that still lives in Boston. When asked if there will be any ill will from the presumptive Celtics fans, Niang replied “That’s tough for them. I’m excited to be here and make things happen.”
Role fit with the Sixers
The standout trait that Niang brings to the team is his shooting. He attempted 4.1 three-pointers per game this season despite playing just 16 minutes per game. When looking at it on a per 36-minute scale, Niang launched 9.1 attempts while connecting at a 42.5% rate. To put this in perspective, Furkan Korkmaz also averaged 9.1 three-point attempts per 36 minutes while Danny Green record 8.0. The bottom line is Niang is not afraid to let it fly from beyond the arc.
As far as what position this will translate to, Niang left it fairly open-ended. He gave all the team-friendly answers of being willing to do whatever the team asks and also spoke on his versatility to match up with small forwards, power forwards, and even centers. It will likely take some experimenting with the lineup to find Niang’s best usage, but for the moment he will be pegged as a Mike Scott upgrade.
It is also noteworthy that, just as Andre Drummond did, Georges Niang mentioned a phone call with Doc Rivers as what sealed the deal for his decision to come to the Sixers. The former member of the Jazz mentioned that he discussed his potential role with Rivers and why his skill set would be a positive addition to the team.
Excitement to Play with Joel Embiid
As is likely the case with every incoming player, Georges Niang raved about getting the chance to play next to Joel Embiid. When asked what it will be like to lineup alongside the MVP candidate, Niang replied:
“Uh… Amazing! You know, you are playing with a big man that has to draw a double team every time or he’s scoring. Whenever you have a dynamic offensive weapon that can score from the outside, get to the free throw line, can punish the defender inside, it creates an opprotunity for the defense to be in rotation… and that’s him creating shots for other people just by being out on the floor… I’ve never had that in my career so I’m extremely excited for that cause Joel is a willing passer and he can dominate by scoring.”
The genuine excitement by Niang to play alongside the Sixers superstar is very encouraging. Management has failed in a major way to find the proper complementary pieces around Embiid so far in his career and hopefully, Niang is a sign that this is changing. It will be interesting to watch how it works out when the newly signed free agent hits the court, but it may be time to start gearing up the Minivan fan club.