Doc Rivers thinks Georges Niang can be sleeper signing for Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers players and coaches discussed an array of topics during their media day on Monday. After answering questions on the Ben Simmons situation, Doc Rivers dove into his thoughts on some of the Sixers’ new additions. Daryl Morey retained most of the team’s free agents, but some spots had to be filled. In a pair of quiet signings, Andre Drummond and Georges Niang were acquired by Philly to help round out the second unit.
While Rivers acknowledged that Drummond is the bigger name and will bring a lot to the second unit, it’s Niang that he is most excited to work with. He feels that the addition of the sharpshooting forward has the chance to be an under-the-radar signing that pays huge dividends for the Sixers this season.
[Georges] Niang is, to me, the silent pickup that I personally believe will really be big for us in a lot of ways, especially if we try to play small ball, because of his ability to stretch the floor.
With his ability to reliably knock down shots on the outside, Niang certainly has a chance to be an X-factor for the Sixers. The 27-year-old has shot above 40% from three in each of the last three seasons and is coming off a career year shooting-wise. Last year for the Jazz, Niang shot 42.5% on just over four attempts per game. His percentage jumped even higher (44.4%) when catching and shooting.
Niang checks off two important boxes for Rivers from last season. It is not surprising the coach is excited to get Niang on the floor. During his exit interview, Rivers said he felt the lineup got small at power forward when Tobias Harris wasn’t on the floor. At six-foot-seven, Niang will add some much-needed size to the bench for the Sixers.
The other issue the second unit struggled with last season was spacing. Lineups featuring Matisse Thybulle and Dwight Howard led to the painted area regularly being congested. With Drummond being another center who does not stretch the floor, that same problem is likely to arise for the Sixers. Having Niang out there to draw attention beyond the arc should make life a little easier for Doc Rivers.
Being utilized as a small-ball five is something Niang has never done before but is willing to try. During his availability Monday, he spoke about how the game has changed and using his skill set differently for the Sixers.
I’ve been eliminated by the Houston Rockets, who played PJ Tucker out there as a small-ball five. I understand the dynamic of having floor spacers and sometimes playing without a center. I’m open to all that, and I think I’m capable of that.
Whether it’s being used as a small-ball five or just being a deadeye shooter on the outside, Georges Niang has an opportunity to add a new dynamic to the Sixers. We have seen shooters come to Philadelphia and thrive playing off Joel Embiid, and things should be no different for him. Daryl Morey continues to do a great job finding the right players who best complement the team’s franchise cornerstone.