The Sixers headlines are dominated by the James Harden trade, Joel Embiid’s MVP campaign, or Tyrese Maxey’s rapid development. However, there still must be acknowledgment for the marginal moves that have impacted the team in a major way.
Perhaps there is no greater example of this than the addition of Georges Niang. The Iowa State product has made a positive impact on the Sixers bench with his admirable ability to let it fly from deep, his spunky personality, and just being the most functional backup forward the Sixers have had in several years.
It was an under-the-wire signing from the start when Daryl Morey inked Georges Niang to a two-year $6.7 million deal this offseason. With the team strapped against the cap and with limited free-agent money available, this was about as impactful of a deal as the Sixers could have hoped for. It also has become crystal clear in the first half of the season that Niang checks every box for the grit and grind that Philly fans live for.
It also is worth noting that this was a calculated risk on Morey’s part that is proving to be a success. Prior to this season, Georges Niang had never played more than 16 minutes per game in the NBA and played in a very limited and specialized role. While Georges showed flashes of outside ability, in the four years he spent with the Utah Jazz, he played a very scripted role with limited chances for creation outside of being a floor-spacer.
Since coming to the Sixers, Niang has averaged 23.4 minutes per game and is producing 9.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 39.7% from beyond the three-point arc on his 4.9 attempts per game. He has become a trusted rotational piece for Doc Rivers and matches his on-court effectiveness with his electric personality.
The willingness from Georges Niang to shoot three-pointers has been especially impactful in the Sixers offense alongside Joel Embiid. Niang ranks second on the Sixers in three-point attempts per 36 minutes, tallying 7.6 attempts per game trailing only Isaiah Joe, who tosses up 7.8 attempts per 36 minutes. It also is worth noting that this number is more than double the three-pointers that Tobias Harris shoots as he averages just 3.4 three-pointers per 36 minutes. This is a massive credit to Niang’s fit within the Sixers offense, and his production is backing it up.
When thinking back to the other backup forwards that the Sixers have tried, it is clear just how impactful Niang has been. The inability of Mike Scott to play serviceable minutes was a major reason that Tobias Harris led the Sixers in minutes last year, and this added flexibility with the Sixers rotation. Outside of some splash-in-the-pan of production from names like Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Muscala, this has been a position of need for the Sixers for quite some time, and the addition of Niang has finally addressed this.
The Niang Swag
Outside of his on-court ability, Georges Niang has brought an attitude and effort that has been missing on this Sixers roster. It is rare to watch a Sixers game where Niang isn’t turning to the opposing bench or crowd and chirping after knocking down a three-pointer. He brings his effort and energy on an every-night basis and also in one of the most regular guys across the entire NBA.
What you do know you are getting with Georges Niang is a guy who is willing to let it fly no matter what. He will talk some trash, leave his all on the court, and be willing to hit the big three if the moment calls for it. It will be interesting to see how Niang fits into the Sixers rotation as the postseason inches closer, but the added flexibility and impact he has brought is showing some major results early on this year.