Philadelphia 76ers: Georges Niang is a free agency risk worth taking

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Welp, there you go; after countless hours of anticipation, the Philadelphia 76ers have finally landed on their backup to Joel Embiid in two-time All-Star Andre Drummond.

… yeah, I don’t get it either.

I guess, if you look at Drummond as a souped-up version of Dwight Howard, this move is a legitimate upgrade but outside of that very specific lens, this move leaves more questions than answers.

Well, as it turns out, Drummond might not be the only big man joining the 76ers this fall. No, if recent reports are true, the team could be adding another center who can shoot some 3s, play some D, and fit alongside Embiid… that is, if he actually brings this thing in for a landing.

Georges Niang could be a perfect role player on the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Georges Niang is a former second-round pick out of Iowa State.

He initially began his career with the Indiana Pacers in 2016-17, where he appeared in 23 games with no starts while splitting his time with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants before being waived by season’s end.

With no clear path onto another NBA roster, Niang signed a training camp contract with the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2017 and ended up on the Santa Cruz Warriors as an affiliate player after being waived coming out of camp.

After showing out well with the Lil Warriors, Niang drew interest from teams around the NBA and ultimately signed a two-way contract with the Utah Jazz to serve as a developmental piece alongside his former Cyclones teammate Naz Mitrou-Long.

From there, Niang took the slow-and-steady route to getting NBA minutes, initially servicing as a deep bench reserve a la early career Furkan Korkmaz before stealing working his way into Quin Snyder’s rotation as a 3 point shooting reserve forward.

By the 2020-21 season, which just so happens to be a contract year for the Massachusetts native, Niang was an every game player who averaged 6.9 points and 2.4 rebounds a night while draining 42.5 percent of his 3 pointers on 4.1 attempts a night.

Are you – or Daryl Morey – looking for a young, ascending combo forward who could potentially have an explosive season with a bigger workload and an opportunity to play off of a double-team drawing paintmaster like Joel Hans Embiid? Well, Niang might just be your guy.

Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, Niang’s nicknames are “Minivan” and “Fat Curry,” both of which are incredibly fun.

With players like Daniel Theis/Doug McDermott/Zach Collins coming off the market at a feverish clip, it would probably be wise for a frontcourt deficient team to snatch up a player like Niang if you’re in need of a switchable bigman who can shoot the 3, play a little D, and serve as a viable rotation piece come playoff time. Bonus points if said team also plays in the cheesesteak capital of the world.

Hmm… whoever could that be?

While fans of the Philadelphia 76ers were still #processing the ramifications of signing Drummond – who you may recall doesn’t exactly have a glowing relationship with Joel Embiid – Grant Afseth, who covers the Dallas Mavericks for SINow, reported that Niang intended to sign a two-year contract with Daryl Morey’s squad for right around $6-7 million.

The tweet, understandably, got people in the City of Brotherly Love rightfully jazzed off their mind, as the team had finally, finally secured a stretch big who could play alongside Embiid or in place of him, depending on what the situation dictated. Granted, Afseth deleted the tweet shortly thereafter, a move which is always a red flag on potential trades, but good ‘ole Keith Pompey swooped in and confirmed that Niang is, in fact, in play with the Sixers.

UPDATE: Afseth re-tweeted his reporting, Niang to the Sixers on a two-year deal.

Measuring in at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Niang is a decently athletic combo forward who can stretch the field, attack the paint, and haul in rebounds at a decent enough clip. He’s fleet of foot enough to be a full-court contributor, a viable scorer both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations, and an 86.7 percent free-throw shooter on 75 career attempts. If he can just double his 3 point shooting output without sacrificing his efficiency, Niang could be an ideal eight-man coming off the bench for a team in desperate need of frontcourt production.

Heck, if Niang can just become the 2021 version of Ersan Ilyasova, the Sixers’ second-unit frontcourt could be in pretty good shape.

Who will help to carry Andre Drummond?. dark. Next

Regardless of how you feel about Andre Drummond and his uber-one-sided feud with Joel Embiid, securing Georges Niang’s services gives the Philadelphia 76ers a pretty darn formative big man rotation padded out by Paul Reed and Charles Bassey. For the low, low price of $3.6 million in AAV, the Philadelphia 76ers just got a massive bargain they could have desperately used back in May and could build around for years to come if he can match his efficiency in 10-plus more minutes of action a night.

UPDATE II: Keith Pompey has confirmed Georges Niang to the Philadelphia 76ers on a two-year deal worth $7.2 million. Daryl Morey, you got your guy.