So far, so good.
Though the sample size is small and it’s hard to really judge the stats of a player who has only logged 139 minutes so far this season, Niang has been a marked improvement over Mike Scott, who barely saw the court during the playoffs back in June despite a desperate need for frontcourt minutes.
If Niang can continue to average 10.7 points in 19.9 minutes of action a night while hitting 43.2 percent of his 5.3 shots from beyond the arc, he’ll be a hero in the City of Brotherly Love, and if he can take those numbers up a notch, he may just see a bigger role down the line.
But for a team like the Philadelphia 76ers to benefit so massively from a free agent steal like Georges Niang, another team has to let him go. That team is the Utah Jazz, and needless to say, they surely have a serious case of seller’s remorse.
The Philadelphia 76ers have benefited from Utah’s blunder.
In 2020-21, the Utah Jazz were on fire.
They attempted an average of 43 shots from beyond the arc per game, the highest clip of any team in the NBA, and were able to drain them at 38.9 percent clip, good for the fourth-best mark in the Association.
General manager Dennis Lindsey surrounded his core players – Mike Conley, Donavan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert- with shooters on top of shooters on top of shooters and saw his team finish out the regular season with five players who made their 3 pointers at a 40 percent or higher clip.
One of those players was Georges Niang, but he wasn’t alone.
No, from Joe Ingles, to Ersan Ilyasova, Jarrell Brantley, and even Mike Conley, the Jazz looked, well, jazzed at their depth moving forward and surely thought they could weather the loss of Niang with only the draft and a buy-low trade for Villanova legend Eric Paschall to further fortify their ranks.
Thus far, that hasn’t happened.
Now don’t get me wrong, I, like any Philly fan, love Paschall. I thought he played very well for the Golden State Warriors, was a really good addition by the Jazz, and probably should be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers right now considering the team’s wealth of draft capital, but he doesn’t bring the same firepower to the table as Niang, who is more lights out marksman than Draymond Green Jr.
Ingles is back in 2021-22, as is Conley, but Ilyasova remains unsigned heading into the second calendar month of the NBA season, as is Jarrell Brantley.
Outside of that core five, Royce O’Neal was likely expected to take on a bigger offensive role for the Jazz in Niang’s absence, but he’s struggled mightily from beyond the arc, hitting 30 percent of his 3.3 3-pointers a night, which is down from both an efficiency and volume perspective when compared to last season.
Really, outside of Jordan Clarkson, there isn’t a Jazzman coming off of Utah’s bench who strikes fear in the hearts of opposing teams, which wasn’t the case one season ago.
Even if the Jazz relied on Clarkson heavily despite his low efficiency numbers, they had enough quality shooters to keep a fully stocked cupboard on the court for the vast majority of the time, which hasn’t quite been the case in 2021-22.
The Sixers, by contrast, finally have a good bench with Niang, Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, and Andre Drummond leading the way, with their only real deficiency being a quality backup point guard.
Hindsight being what it is, I would imagine the Jazz would love to see a minivan back in their parking lot right about now.
According to Statmuse, the Philadelphia 76ers haven’t had a bench forward score 20 or more points in a game since Glenn Robinson accomplished the feat on March 3rd, 2020. Georges Niang broke that streak with a dominant performance against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. If he can do it again this season, he’ll be the first Sixers player to accomplish that feat since Ersan Ilyasova did so in 2018, but even if Niang can’t and keeps his scoring averages right around 10 per game, he’ll still go down as one of the best bargains in the NBA, all thanks to the Utah Jazz’s disinterest in bringing him back for $3.3 million a year.