Philadelphia 76ers: Georges Niang is a perfect complementary piece

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Cultivating a successful aquarium takes time, effort, and planning.

After spending some time building up a rich ecosystem of ornaments, rocks, and water with the correct pH level, one can slowly start to build out a successful tank, typically with a showcase centerpiece and complementary fish around them to create a compelling aquarium.

Can those complementary fish still be nice to look at or fill a specific need? You bet, while one might not name a half dozen neon guppies or a few bottom-of-the-tank snails, they’re just as important to the success of a tank, with the latter playing an important role in keeping things clean.

Why, you may ask, is this relevant to this, a basketball blog? Well outside of my personal efforts in getting a 10-gallon tank fish-worthy since Christmas, a basketball team like the Philadelphia 76ers is sort of like an aquarium, with bigger statement players like Joel Embiid earning the build of the attention – and costing the most money – and other players filling out the ecosystem in a complementary way.

And yes you (probably) guessed it, that makes Georges Ninag the snail at the bottom of the tank who does the dirty work.

Georges Niang was a perfect addition to the Philadelphia 76ers.

What makes a perfect complementary roleplayer alongside Joel Embiid? Not a third star mind you, or even a high-usage starter, but a role player who can either start or come off the bench, and provide utility value on a sub-$20 million contract. What does that player look like?

Well, for one, they need to shoot 3s. Because Embiid draws in opposing defenders like a black hole in the paint, there are open looks from 3 on seemingly every since one of the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense possessions, which the big fella is becoming increasingly good at facilitating.

Another core tenant of an Embiid assistant would be an ability to switch on defense, specifically around the perimeter. Said player doesn’t have to be an elite defender, but being able to switch on picks, keep an opposing player in front of them, and prevent open shots would certainly make Embiid’s life easier, as he draws pretty heavy usage in the paint as the team glass cleaner.

Other than those two areas of desired need, being able to assist in playmaking and/or rebounding would certainly help to keep the time of possession split in Philly’s favor and thus make Embiid’s life a little easier.

Georges Niang checks all of those boxes.

On offense, Niang is a quick trigger. 94 percent of his five 3 point attempts per game are of the catch-and-shoot variety and he’s a better than average shooter from every position around the arc except for, weirdly enough, the right corner.

And what about on defense? While Niang isn’t as naturally talented as many of his teammates, specifically Matisse Thybulle and Matisse Thybulle Jr. Charlie Brown Jr., Niang tries awfully hard when he’s on defense and has a bit of a mean streak that comes to light when he feels challenged for one reason or another.

For the first time since Jimmy Butler packed up his minivan and took his talents to South Beach, the Sixers have a player willing to get in people’s faces and enforce for Embiid; a regular Broadstreet Bully, if you will.

And as for auxiliary production? Well, Niang averages 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and .5 steals, which isn’t going to turn many heads but certainly helps to contribute across the board more than your Dāvis Bertāns-type of shoot-only forward.

If Niang can just double his rebounds per game, the two-year, $6.7 million he signed last summer will look like even more of a bargain, especially when compared to the five-year, $80 million deal the Washing Wizards gave to Bertāns back in 2020.

Charlie Brown Jr. is good at causing grief. dark. Next

In the NBA, you need stars to win. Every team over the last decade to make it to the NBA finals has had at least one star and most have had two or even three more for good measure. But roleplayers are important too, especially ones who can do all of the little things to make a star player’s life easier. In Georges Niang, the Philadelphia 76ers identified a perfect fit alongside Joel Embiid and I, for one, am very happy he’s a part of the team’s ecosystem.