With the injuries the Cleveland Cavaliers have been dealing with, the team has had to have others step up. It’s been a collective effort, really, with the team having been without Darius Garland (fractured jaw) and Evan Mobley (arthroscopic knee surgery) in recent weeks. Donovan Mitchell (illness) had missed Cleveland's four previous games prior to their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday as well.
For the Wine and Gold, it’s been encouraging to see players such as Dean Wade, Isaac Okoro and Craig Porter Jr. make a big difference with role increases, and in Porter’s case, he should have his two-way contract converted to a standard one eventually. These players have all often made an impact on both ends of the floor, and Cleveland has really benefited from role player/depth guy contributions.
That said, it’s not been the sunniest of weeks lately for one Cavalier who was brought in over the offseason in free agency. Georges Niang has not been hitting of late from downtown for Cleveland in his minutes.
Niang has been in a tough shooting slump in his rotational Cavaliers minutes.
It hasn't been all on him, and injuries to playmakers at various points, and often reshuffling of lineups have not made things easier, but Niang hasn't had the best of seasons thus far. He did start to get going leading into early December, however, regardless of Garland and Mobley being out, Niang has not shot the ball from deep nearly how he's capable.
In his last 12 games, he's shot 30.6 percent from three-point range, in what's amounted to 5.2 attempts per contest. It hasn't been the greatest stretch for him in much of December.
He did knock in four of his eight three looks in Cleveland's comeback over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, and had 16 points, but Niang has not been hitting, for the most part, in recent weeks. Some of the looks have just been way off, which has been a bit puzzling, as he's a player that definitely benefits from ball and man movement offensively, and he himself moves without the ball well, typically, to avail himself.
On corner three-point attempts this season, Niang has shot just 22.2 percent on a frequency of 29.8 percent, which has been particularly odd. For his career, by comparison, he's shot 41.1 percent from that spot on a frequency of 30.3 percent.
Now, to reiterate, Niang has been in a new situation with a new squad, and the Cavs having their share of injuries to key players and offensive threats has not helped some role players, with Niang being one of them at various points.
There have been some instances where Niang has made plays for himself after hard closeouts, and he has made some great and timely cuts for interior finishes, to his credit, but one generally wants him to have most of his looks via catch-and-shoots. Those just have not been dropping in recent weeks quite at the rate of how Niang, a career 39.6 percent three-point shooter, normally connects on them at.
Granted, Mitchell's return from his absence should help Niang, and the same can apply for Caris LeVert's playmaking presence, and Porter, to some degree. Hopefully, though, a more than capable catch-and-shoot forward in Niang can recalibrate soon, as he did start to pick things up after initial struggles, and with his spacing impact, the Cavaliers do need him in for stretches.
His grit, toughness and movement have been meaningful, too, but this Cavs team is more potent when Niang is on from deep. In rotational minutes, he can be an X-Factor for the Wine and Gold, and an energy guy.