As the non-conference schedule draws to a close, Cyclone fans know two things for sure:
1) This team can be incredibly frustrating with their frequent slow starts and ever-developing chemistry.
2) Georges Niang is damn good at basketball.
"He's Nianging!" - That's the phrase that means Georges has slipped into a lethal offensive mode... Or he's turned it over several possessions in a row. Good Niang and Bad Niang seemed to be perpetual dance partners through the first three seasons of Niang's career. Magnificent plays were often followed by mystifying turnovers.
2015 has been different. The turnovers are down this season, and the offensive performances are better than ever. He's been really, really good.
But just how good is the Big Silent S? After four years and over 100 games played, it's understandable that Iowa State fans have lost a little perspective - we’re just used to Niang doing Niang things.
The answer, of course, is really good. Through 11 non-conference games, he's equaled or improved upon almost every measurable category from previous seasons.
He's also showing up on the leaderboard in 10 of the 12 statistical categories the Big 12 conference measures.
Georges Niang 2015 Stats & Ranks
(Current Big 12 rank in parenthesis)
PPG: 19.2 (2) – A full 4 points better than last year’s average, and almost 3 PPG better than anyone not named Buddy.
RPG: 6.5 (8) – Since losing Melvin Ejim, Georges has steadily improved his rebounding, averaging an extra board per game every season.
APG: 3.5 (t11) – This stat has been rock solid at 3.5 since Niang’s sophomore season.
FG%: 52.7% (11) – Niang is shooting ridiculously well right now, almost 5% over his career average. Only problem is, so are lot of the other shooters in the conference right now. Big 12 play should lead to some regression.
3FG%: 39.6% (11) – Picking up right where he left off last season, Niang is again one of the top 3-point shooters in the conference.
FT%: 87.8% (3) – Do the Cyclones' woes at the free throw line drive you crazy? Don’t blame Niang. He’s up’d his FT% steadily over four seasons: 70%, 72%, 81% and now near 90%.
3PT Made: 1.7 PG (t10) – During nonconference play, Niang is making about 0.5 more 3-pointers a game than his career average.
BPG: 0.91 (t11) – That’s correct, Old Man Game himself is on the leaderboard of BLOCKS. He’s also almost doubled last year’s block rate.
A/TO ratio: 2.0 (13) - Monte Morris has to be so proud. Niang’s turnovers are down, and with the steady assist numbers, that leads to a really nice average that’s good for 13th overall. But then again, everybody still has to play WVU twice. Turnovers are where "Bad Niang" has reared his head in the past, so let’s hope this season's positive trend continues.
Defensive RPG: 5.27 (7) – Niang is never going to grab a ton of offensive rebounds, so he makes up for it on the defensive end, improving by nearly a rebound per game each of the last two seasons.
Categories unranked: Offensive RPG, Steals.
But ClonesJer, these are not advanced stats! You can't have stats without advancing them!
Here's a brief look at his advanced numbers:
- Improved by 8% this season on his career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) to just shy of 27%
- Raised his Effective FG% by almost 10% to 0.591
- Cut his TO% in half
- Almost doubled his Win Shares / 40mins to 0.252
So yeah, he’s been good there too.
I also thought it’d be fun to compare Georges to a little Cyclone history.
I’ve included the statistics I referenced above and also added a couple advanced stats for reference. Note that PER values were not available for Hoiberg or Fizer’s senior seasons.
This year, Georges is simply the man with no hole in his game. Every other "great" Cyclone season has a couple glaring green sections, while Niang’s season so far this year simply doesn’t. His season to this point is as good or better than some of the greatest players in recent Cyclone memory to play a similar "position" to Niang on the floor.
So, next time the Cyclones take the floor, try to take a moment to watch Niang for a while and appreciate the All-American for playing like one, even when the Cyclones aren’t quite clicking on all cylinders.
He’s putting on a hell of a show.