Georges Niang Has Been an Underrated Addition for Sixers This Season

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By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

All eyes might have been on superstar Joel Embiid as he dropped 42 points in the Philadelphia 76ers' 123-120 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. However, he was not the only player who produced in a big way in the win.

Georges Niang continued to step up whenever his number was called. Head coach Doc Rivers made the decision to start Niang over Danny Green presumably to match up better with the Bucks' bigger lineup, and the move paid dividends.

The Sixers began the game giving Niang the impossible assignment of trying to guard Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. While that matchup would certainly not look good on paper, Niang actually did a solid job. He forced Antetokounmpo to settle for some mid-range shots early on in the first quarter. Niang spoke after the win about his defensive mindset guarding Antetokounmpo.

"I think the biggest thing was just throw off his timing," Niang said. "A lot of guys let him ramp up and get to his right hand and drive downhill and let him get rhythm. Obviously, you don’t completely stop a guy like that. Just make him take as many tough shots as he had to and Joel did a great job behind me of trusting in our defense and being a wall back there and giving me the opportunity to push up and be the anchor back there."

Antetokounmpo finished the game with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the field, but Niang and the Sixers as a whole did a solid job making things difficult for him.

While Niang played a big role defensively, he also had one of his better offensive games of the season. He did get off to a slow start offensively, turning the ball over a couple times while trying to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. However, James Harden then told him during a timeout to take more threes and stick to his strengths.

He would go on to make five of his 10 attempts from three-point range, including a crucial three to cut the Bucks' lead down to one with 3:35 remaining. He finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds. Both his early defense on Giannis and his ability to knock down threes played a huge role in the win over the Bucks.

Niang is at his best offensively as a catch-and-shoot player from three-point range. He is one of the team's best outside shooters, making 39.7 percent of his 4.9 attempts per game from beyond the arc.

However, he has shown the occasional ability to get to the rim this season. He is shooting 55.8 percent on shots from inside of 10 feet from the basket.

While his drives to the rim might look clunky, it is incredibly important he is able to run his man off the three-point line and become more than just a catch-and-shoot player offensively.

The Sixers signed Niang to a two-year, $6.7 million contract this past offseason. He has played a key role for the Sixers off the bench, taking advantage of a career-high 23.4 minutes per game to be one of the team's top role players, averaging 9.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. At just $3.35 million per season, Niang has proven to be a vastly underrated addition to the Sixers' roster this season.

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