Georges Niang has not been with the Cleveland Cavaliers for long, but he seems to be acclimating himself well to the team, on and off the floor.
Niang signed with the Cavaliers this summer in free agency, via three-year, $25.5 million deal. Over the past several seasons, he has proven he’s a quality catch-and-shoot threat, and moves without the ball well.
He has found ways to give his teams energy off the bench, and for Cleveland, he should boost their shooting efforts. He’s connected on at least 40.0 percent of his three-point attempts for the last five seasons, last with the Philadelphia 76ers and in prior seasons, with the Utah Jazz.
As was mentioned earlier, Niang appears to be finding his way on the floor in training camp and also in preseason action thus far. Additionally, Niang seems to have more than ample buy-in with this group, based on him being reunited with his buddy in Donovan Mitchell, and other young, ascending players such as Darius Garland and Evan Mobley.
To that last point, Niang had especially high praise of Mobley, as many have, and in particular, his outstanding rim protection, even for such a young player. Niang expressed how Mobley’s defensive efforts at the rim are comparable to Rudy Gobert, who Niang played with for a while with Utah.
Niang played on the Jazz with Gobert for four seasons, and in that time, Gobert was the Defensive Player of the Year three times over that four-year span.
Gobert’s rim protection has long been his specialty in his career in the NBA, and his rim deterrence is a significant part of his value defensively. While he’s not nearly the switchable defensive player Mobley has shown to be, these comments from Niang are no small thing, even if he was not looking for them to “go viral.”
How ever one wants to slice it, it was high praise from Niang for Mobley.
Mobley has been one of the key reasons for the Cavaliers’ defensive turnaround in the past two seasons, and his knack for contesting with verticality, and most notably, without fouling much, has been so impressive. Last season, Mobley made All-Defense First Team, and he was the youngest finalist in NBA history for the Defensive Player of the Year.
As it relates to Niang’s comments, Gobert has proven he’s one of the NBA’s top rim protectors and his presence in the paint has led to opponents passing up shots there on a number of occasions over the years. For his career, Gobert’s had 2.1 blocks per contest and a block rate of 5.9 percent, and his length and timing has made him one of the league’s most impactful defenders.
To begin his career, though, Mobley has already proven he’s a difference-maker for the Cavaliers, and he should only get better on defense moving forward. He had a robust 1.5 blocks per contest last season for the Cavs, and was fourth in the NBA in contested shots per game, per NBA.com’s hustle data.
It’ll be interesting to watch Mobley’s continual development this coming season, and looking onward.
Hopefully, he can take a step forward offensively, which would be huge for the Wine and Gold as they try to establish themselves as true contenders. But, rest assured, Niang, Darius Garland and company should know what they’re typically getting Mobley on defense, where his 7-foot-4 length, fluidity, rim protection, timing and overall feel have already made him one of the league’s best defenders.