LAS VEGAS — Let’s just say that Georges Niang is excited to play with Joel Embiid.
Niang signed his two-year contract for $6.7 million to join the 76ers on Friday. Moments later, the reserve power forward was asked what he envisions it will be like to play off Embiid.
“Ah ... amazing,” Niang said during his introductory Zoom news conference. “You are playing with a big man that has to draw a double team every time or he’s scoring. Whenever you have a dynamic offensive weapon that can score from the outside, get to the free-throw line, can punish the defender inside, it creates an opportunity for the defense in rotation.”
Niang added that other members of the team get shots against a rotating defense just by being out on the floor.
“I’ve never had that in my career,” he said. “So you know I’m extremely excited for that, because Joel is a willing passer and he can dominate the game by scoring.”
Things should work out well offensively while they’re together on the floor.
That’s because just as Embiid is a willing passer, Niang is an accomplished three-point shooter. The Massachusetts native averaged career-highs of 6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 16 minutes and shot a career-best 43.5% on three-pointers last season for the Utah Jazz.
Being from the Boston area, the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder said he’s familiar with Philly’s being a blue-collar sports town.
“I was telling someone before, if you do it big here and win a championship, you’re taken care of forever,” he said. “Along with that, obviously this situation fits. Shooting the ball is something that I do well.”
That was something the Sixers said they need from him. The deciding factor in Niang’s signing was a phone conversation with coach Doc Rivers, who revealed his admiration for the the 28-year-old and disclosed how he would be used with the Sixers.
In addition to shooting, Niang can get in the lane and create for teammates. He can also guard power forwards and centers.
“Nothing‘s more exciting than being able to come and compete for a championship in a city that loves its sports like Philadelphia,” he said. “So I’m excited.”
The former Iowa State standout was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 50th pick of the 2016 draft. The Pacers waived him on July 14, 2017. Niang signed with the Golden State Warriors a month later before being waived on Oct. 14, 2017.
But he signed a two-way contract with the Jazz on Jan. 14, 2018. Niang had his deal converted to a regular NBA contract on July 13, 2018. He’s been an NBA fixture ever since.
He will come to the Sixers with career averages of 5.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 11.9 minutes in 229 games with 11 starts.
A reporter reminded Niang that, while it made sense for him to be elated to be a Sixer, he now plays for the hated rival of his family members and friends back in New England.
“That’s tough for them,” Niang said. “I’m excited to be here and make things happen.”