Niang Finds Groove With Jazz Second Unit
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Georges Niang had a slow start to the season with the Utah Jazz. The forward didn’t score a basket until the Jazz sixth game and had just two points through eight games.
But recently, the forward has transformed into a force off the bench, and one of the team’s most efficient scorers in limited minutes.
In the Jazz last four games, arguably their most dominant stretch of the season (all wins which have come with an average win-margin of 18.5 points) Niang is scoring 11.3 points per game, grabbing 3.8 rebounds, and handing one 1.0 assist while shooting 54 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the free-throw line.
It’s not just Niang’s results however, it’s his style of play that has looked different within the team’s offense. The fifth-year forward appears more comfortable with the ball in his hands both as a shooter and making plays off the dribble.
“Before I was looked at as just a shooter and other teams have been doing a good job of chasing me off the line” Niang said. “So that’s something that I’ve worked on this summer. Really trying to you know make things happen off the dribble.”
Niang credits team chemistry and recognition of role with his recent high-level of play alongside his teammates.
“I think we’ve all put an emphasis on playing defense this year,” Niang said. “But I think when we’re the second unit is out there, the ball is hopping, it’s moving. It’s fun to be a part of and I hope it’s fun to watch.”
All Credit To Gobert
The Jazz have the best defensive rating in the NBA during their current six-game winning streak. The team is allowing 101.2 points per 100 possessions during the streak, a full point better than the second-ranked Memphis Grizzlies.
While Niang mentioned the team’s newfound attention to detail on the defensive end, he said most of the credit belongs to center Rudy Gobert.
“I know he has a lot of critics out there that try to devalue him with their words but I don’t think anyone will ever understand how valuable he is to this team unless you’re in this locker room,” Niang said.
“The stuff that he brings, no one else can bring. Whether that’s protection at the rim, whether that’s being an anchor, talking to us constantly. He lives and breathes it, and he’s become a true leader since I’ve been here.”
The Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans will tip-off tonight at 8 pm MST. The game will be broadcast on TNT.