With how hot Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang has been shooting from the perimeter this season, he absolutely deserves to compete in the NBA 3-Point Contest.
When the Utah Jazz went into the offseason this past summer, their goal after watching clanked shot after clanked shot in the playoffs against the Houston Rockets was to add more shooting to bolster their offense. Well, at nearly the halfway point of the season, I’d say they’ve done quite an exceptional job as the Jazz just so happen to lead the league in 3-point percentage at an incredible 39.2 percent.
That is an absolutely scorching figure that has the Jazz offense looking truly dangerous. And it may come as a surprise to some, but the player that just so happens to be leading the pack in three-point percentage for the team is none other than Georges Niang.
Niang has been shooting the lights out as he is currently second in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 47.3 percent, trailing only Milwaukee’s George Hill. Of late, Niang has been even more prolific as, since the Jazz opted to waive Jeff Green to open up more time for Georges, he’s averaging an incredible 55 percent from behind the arc on five attempts per game. Perhaps letting Green go was the key to unlocking Niang’s potential.
His recent sharpshooting has caused quite an uproar among the Utah Jazz faithful, including among his teammates themselves. Following Friday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets wherein Niang went 5-of-9 from the perimeter, Rudy Gobert tweeted out a simple endorsement for getting Georges in the NBA All-Star Weekend 3-Point Contest:
His tweet was quickly followed up by a vote of agreement from none other than fellow Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles:
Quite frankly, considering that Niang is at second in the NBA in 3-point efficiency, he absolutely has a case for joining the field. And, putting aside my Jazz bias for a moment, simply seeing someone of his stature and physique competing against the typically smaller and more athletic shooters participating would be a fun and entertaining aspect of the competition.
Nevertheless, it might be an uphill battle for Niang to secure an invitation. The Jazz aren’t exactly a team that’s known for receiving national praise or attention, and the 3-Point Contest unfortunately doesn’t typically reward lesser known guys that just so happen to be shooting at a high percentage. For example, last year’s field featured guys like Kemba Walker and Dirk Nowitzki who, while they’re reputed as being great shooters, had several players ahead of them in terms of pure percentage.
Ironically, the Jazz actually boast a slew of players deserving of entering the contest. Aside from Niang, Royce O’Neale is shooting 44.7 percent from deep, Bojan Bogdanovic is at 41.9 percent and Joe Ingles is at 41.4 percent, which is really impressive after his slow start. Considering that the Jazz are the NBA’s leader in 3-point percentage, it would be an absolute travesty if they didn’t receive at least one invitee.
Niang is certainly deserving and I’d love to see him there as Gobert and Ingles are campaigning for. But if I had to guess, I’d say Bogdanovic is the most likely one to receive an invite. He’s the most recognizable name of the bunch and the highest scorer of the crew. He also shoots an efficient percentage with the most attempts at 7.2 per game.
Not only that, but Royce is still relatively unknown among more casual fans and while Joe Ingles would be as entertaining as they come in the 3-point contest, he has insinuated in the past that he wouldn’t give up a week off with his family to participate. Perhaps when the All-Star Game comes to Salt Lake City, we can get a 35-year-old Ingles to let them fly.
But if Niang gets in, it would be an incredible nod to the work he’s put in to become a prolific shooter and he would be a unique addition to a typically predictable field. Honestly, considering that the Jazz have been so good from behind the arc as a team, it’d be incredible to see them get two players, such as Niang and Bogdanovic, in the contest.
However, it’s pretty rare that two players from the same team participate. Sure, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry once went head-to-head, but I’d say those two are a bit more high-profile than Bogey and the Minivan.
Nevertheless, it will be exciting to keep an eye on the participants once all is said and done. Ideally Georges Niang will be rewarded for his hard work and shooting prowess and, at a minimum, the Jazz will get at least one representative in the challenge.