Oct 4, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) defends against Philadelphia 76ers forward Georges Niang (20) during the first quarter at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Through one week of his first season as a Philadelphia 76er, Georges Niang continues to draw major praise from folks inside the organization.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers specifically has been impressed by the former Cyclone’s play as one of the linchpins of the team’s second unit.
“He’s a natural leader,” Rivers said over the weekend, according to Sixers team reporter Lauren Rosen. “He doesn’t try to lead. He’s just Georges.”
That leadership ability has made an impact on the court. Niang, who spent the last four seasons with the Utah Jazz, is averaging a career-high 10.3 points per game so far for Philadelphia while playing a career-high 18.5 minutes per game. He’s also adding a career-high 1.3 assists while shooting 56 percent from 3-point range.
“Just coming in every day and doing what professionals do,” Niang told Rosen. “I have a routine that I stick to, but being around these guys and how much fun we have together on and off the court makes it really easy. It’s really simple coming in every day and enjoying what I do, especially with the people that I work with.”
Niang has certainly been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the ongoing drama between the Sixers organization and All-Star forward Ben Simmons, which has left a considerable amount of minutes up for grabs for Philadelphia’s mix of role players around All-NBA center Joel Embiid.
The Methuen, Mass. native has registered double-digit points in back-to-back games for the Sixers as they’ve started the season by splitting their four contests with a 2-2 record.
“I think we take a lot of pride in (holding it down for the starters),” Niang said of the team’s second unit. “Whether it’s flying around making shots or trying to build on the lead, we try to get in there and impact the game whichever way that we can. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far, but it’s a long season so our work is still cut out for us.”