We're now less than a month away from the 2016 NBA Draft. Among this year's pool of players hoping to be drafted is Georges Niang, the 2016 Karl Malone Award winner for the nation's most outstanding power forward. Niang enjoyed a brilliant year playing basketball at Iowa State, becoming the school's all-time winningest player and leading the team to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament his senior season.
Despite being one of the most skilled offensive players in the country, the likelihood of Niang playing in the NBA has been a hotly debated topic. Average-at-best athleticism to go along with a "tweener" body at 6-foot-8, 231 pounds aren't characteristics that NBA GMs and scouts tend to look for in draft picks. And while his defense certainly improved during his four years at ISU, his skills on that end of the floor aren't doing him any favors either.
But to hell with athleticism, body size and defense. This guy can flat out score.
Niang's abilities on offense were unmatched in college basketball in 2015-16. Sure, there were players who scored more points per game than him, but few (if any) could consistently get buckets in as many ways as the 2nd Team All-American from Methuen, Massachusetts.
Right hooks, left hooks, floaters, up-and-unders, mid-range jumpers and 3-point bombs were deployed relentlessly all throughout his four-year college career. When the defense took something away, Niang countered and attacked. There's something to be said about a player that can score with relative ease even when he's the primary person the defense is focused on stopping.
Don't just assume Niang has to be the one scoring on offense though. He possesses great passing ability as well, in large part due to his high basketball I.Q.
One would think at least a few NBA teams would be interested in such a capable offensive weapon. Sure, he might find it harder to score against the bigger, more athletic players in the league, but even the best prospects sometimes require a period of adjusting before they're completely comfortable as a pro.
As the great Marshall Mathers once said: "Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity... To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment... Would you capture it, or just let it slip?"
Fans across Cyclone Nation and Niang himself are hoping that #31 gets an opportunity to capture everything he ever wanted in the NBA. The Draft is step one on the way to that goal.
Let's go over what we know about Georges Niang and the NBA Draft so far.
We're just about two weeks removed from the NBA Combine, and many people believe Niang's performance increased his draft stock.
Georges Niang showing off his high skill-level and outstanding feel for the game. Helping himself so far. Doing a little of everything.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 12, 2016
You can check out this link to view all of the statistics recorded at the Combine. Of note, Niang had a fabulous first game in the 5-on-5 scrimmage portion, notching 20 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on 67% shooting from the field. Bleacher Report named Niang one of the "winners" of day one at the Combine due to his performance.
Niang can't jump over a puddle, but he still couldn't be stopped during five-on-fives. He finished with 20 points and missed just four looks, having shown off his offensive versatility without shot-hunting.
He takes what the defense gives him and capitalizes. Niang hit a three and a number of unorthodox shots around the paint.
Shooting and measurements generally went well for Niang too. His strength and agility numbers weren't so hot, but no one was exactly expecting him to blow those out of the water.
Being at the Combine also gives players a chance to interview with teams and showcase their personalities. The Ames Tribune's Travis Hines reported that Niang received interviews with a number of teams.
Georges Niang set to interview with Pacers, Suns, Wizards and Cavs tomorrow, per @CodyWesterlund.— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) May 13, 2016
And a week later, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post announced that Niang's interview with the Wizards went well.
It's certainly hard to imagine Niang HURTING his stock while doing an interview...
Workouts, Mock Drafts and the Outlook
At this time, the only known private workout with an NBA team for Niang has come with the Chicago Bulls (boy, wonder what the connection there is?). According to an article from Cyclone Fanatic's Rob Gray, Niang is currently out in L.A. "working on himself" and "trying to become a better knock-down shooter and getting in the best shape of my life."
...and doing some other cool stuff too.
So where do NBA Draft prognosticators see Niang going? Here's some mock drafts, along with where Niang's slated to go.
"Not 1st Round" means the mock draft didn't include the 2nd round, which is where Niang is likely to go if he's picked at all.
DraftExpress | Undrafted
NBADraft.net | Undrafted
DraftSite.com | Undrafted
WalterFootball.com | Undrafted
NBA.com | Not 1st Round
CBS Sports | Not 1st Round
Bleacher Report | Not 1st Round
Yahoo | Not 1st Round
Fansided | Not 1st Round
BasketballInsiders | Not 1st Round
HoopsHype | Not 1st Round
As you can see, few mock drafts actually include the 2nd round. Regardless, no one is predicting Georges Niang to get drafted.
That might end up being true, but don't count Niang out just yet. DraftExpress released their updated Georges Niang scouting report a couple days ago (I highly recommend you read it - it's a great breakdown). The conclusion is the part that should keep Cyclone fans optimistic.
Niang has more to prove in workouts than most in his draft class, as he'll need to endear himself to coaching staffs that could vouch for him as a second round pick or a target for summer league and training camp rosters. If Niang can build momentum on the workout circuit, then he could find a way to work his way up draft boards come June.
We'll probably hear about Niang getting workouts with more NBA teams in the coming weeks. The Draft falls on June 23rd, so there's still plenty of time to make connections and impress the right people. All it takes is one great workout or interview with a team that was already considering him and he could easily become the 34th draftee in Cyclone basketball history - the first since Royce White went 16th overall to the Houston Rockets in 2012.
Whether he's drafted or not, expect Niang to get a summer league invite and don't be surprised if he tears it up playing in those games. He's one of those people who has a knack for finding success in everything he does.
Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential!— Georges Niang (@GeorgesNiang20) May 18, 2016
Good luck, Georges.