Georges Niang’s play proves a pleasant surprise for the Utah Jazz bench

With Jeff Green’s unexpected release from the Utah Jazz in late December, Georges Niang and his impressive three-point shooting have given Jazz fans an unexpected surprise off the once-woeful bench. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Since traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Dante Exum and a pair of second-round picks, Jordan Clarkson has proven to be an absolute scoring stud for the Utah Jazz off the bench. He’s not the only one, however. That same day, with Jeff Green soon finding himself out of a job, Georges Niang has happily scooped up Green’s 18.4-minute average …

He’s certainly made the most of the extra playing time.

Last Sunday, during the Jazz’s thrilling 128-126 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Niang splashed home five of eight three-point attempts, nabbing 15 points in a mere 17 minutes of play off the bench. Arguably, for the first time this year, much of the credit for a Jazz win could confidently be sent Niang’s way.

Alongside Clarkson, Niang has quickly breathed new life into a Jazz bench that once couldn’t get out of its own way — from behind the three-point line, most notably. In fact, in the past 12 Jazz games, Niang has made 22 of his last 41 attempts from deep — that’s a staggering 53.7 percent from three-point land.

Just to put things in perspective, for the season — in large part, thanks to his incredible play off the bench over the past month — Niang’s tied for the fourth-best three-point shooting percentage in the entire league amongst guys with at least 75 attempts at 46.2 percent.

Who’s he tied with on that front, you might ask?

None other than NBA sharp-shooting legend, J.J. Redick.

No wonder the Jazz find themselves as the NBA’s best three-point shooting team. Currently, along with Niang, the likes of Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale and Bojan Bogdanovic are all top-25 three-point shooters. Thanks to their efforts, the Jazz shoot a league-leading 39.1 percent from behind the three-point arc — that’s a sizable 1.3 percent better than the second-best team.

And while Niang’s three-point shooting might have hardcore Jazz fans in a full-blown frenzy, since becoming coach Quin Snyder’s go-to backup at the power forward position, he’s averaging eight points and three rebounds as a +14 on the floor — all this in just 15 minutes of play.

All of this scoring might appear to be “out of the norm” for a guy like Niang …

Unbeknownst to most Jazz fans, however, Niang is Iowa State’s second all-time leading scorer in school history with 2,228 total points. With three full years of experience under his belt and an apparent vote of confidence from Snyder, Niang might finally have found his place in the NBA as a bench scorer.

During Wednesday night’s game, look for Niang to continue his stellar play on the offensive end. Not only are the Jazz squaring off against a New York Knicks team that’s tied for the third-worst record in the NBA at 10-27, but per Knicks PR, they’ll be without three of their best players: Julius Randle (personal reasons), Marcus Morris Sr. (sore neck) and Dennis Smith Jr. (strained left oblique).

Next: Utah Jazz: Joe Ingles proves to the world once again he is a good guy

Fantasy owners, if ever there was a night for Niang to light up the box score, it’d be tonight.

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