When the Cleveland Cavaliers brought in the likes of Georges Niang and Max Strus over the summer, it was apparent they were addressing their perimeter shooting needs. Both of those players established themselves in recent seasons as being more than capable, knockdown shooters for their respective teams, and both can boost Cleveland’s perimeter efforts.
Strus gave the Miami Heat more deep shooting punch in recent prior years, and Niang did so for the Philadelphia 76ers. Strus made 197 three-pointers last season for the Heat, whereas Niang canned 154 for the Sixers.
The hope is, both should be ready to fire away from beyond the arc for the Cavaliers from here, and help players such as Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley, among others. Strus and Niang are players opponents will have to remain glued to off-ball with their shooting capabilities, which should bode well for others around them offensively.
Thus far in preseason, Strus has gotten his deep balls up, and even with a cold shooting night in the preseason opener, his shooting and movement impact has made a difference throughout.
Regarding the outlook for Niang, while one has to read into preseason with a grain of salt, it has also been good to see him let the perimeter shots go without hesitation, and that continue moving forward.
Niang has shot two-of-four and then two-of-five from beyond the arc against the Atlanta Hawks and then Orlando Magic in two preseason losses for the Cavaliers, the first of which was by one point. It’s been a four-of-nine, or 44.4 percent shooting clip for Niang.
It’s been two preseason games, so of course, there’s not a ton to take away from the performances of players yet. Despite that caveat, Niang’s play has offered a glimpse into what could play out in years ahead with Cleveland.
Niang has shot 40.0-plus percent from three-point range for the last five seasons, and over the last four with the Utah Jazz and then Sixers, he connected on 40.7 percent from three. In the last two seasons with Philly, his volume was 4.9 and previously 5.1 deep attempts per contest, and with the Cavaliers, that’s a realistic volume to look for from him it seems.
When his number has been called, he’s proven he can knock deep looks down. In 2022-23, Niang placed in the 87th percentile in spot-up scoring situations, per Synergy Sports.
Niang is not a player Cleveland should be expecting to put it up sizeable traditional splits as a scorer, and he’s not going to generate a ton of his offense, but with the team prioritizing having more man and ball movement, he should have his share of opportunities. That’s what transpired for him thus far in preseason as well, and that’s likely a trend that should hold true moving into the 2023-24 campaign for him.
Now, as the upcoming season is concerned, the Cavs will have to iron out some things from a rotational perspective, and they’ll have to find who Niang plays best with in weeks and months ahead.
Having him play with one of Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen will be something to keep an eye on, and so will who Cleveland has at other spots with Niang on the floor, such as Caris LeVert and/or Dean Wade for stretches.
But overall, it’s clear Niang is going to let it fly when he’s in there, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the Cavaliers use him as a screener both on and feasibly off-ball in his minutes. The offensive change for the Cavs should pay dividends for a bunch of players, and Niang especially should stand to benefit from an uptick in movement.