Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang mastering art of trash talk in pursuit of roster spot

Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang mastering art of trash talk in pursuit of roster spot

LAS VEGAS — Georges Niang kneeled on the left corner of the floor at Vivint Arena, resting his hands on his knees after a timeout.

With the Utah Jazz holding a comfortable 23-point edge with less than 10 minutes remaining, San Antonio Spurs center Amida Brimah made his way over to defend Niang during a Utah Jazz Summer League game on July 2.

“You better not come over here,” Niang told Brimah. “It’s about to be a long day for you.”

“Don’t do that to me,” Brimah responded, smirking.

Niang would finish the game with 17 points and four rebounds as the Jazz prevailed, 92-76. The former Iowa State star also received Utah Jazz Summer League Standout honors after leading the Jazz in scoring over three games, averaging 16.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

During Sunday’s NBA Summer League contest against the New York Knicks, Niang scored 20 points and grabbed eight boards to help the Jazz win 90-85 at Cox Pavilion.

Niang is a restricted free agent fighting for a roster spot on the Jazz, but he doesn’t bite his tongue on the hardwood to gain an edge. Brimah learned that firsthand.

“He’s an NBA roster player for sure,” said Jazz Summer League head coach Alex Jensen. “But a lot of that’s timing for those guys.”

That game within the game has become one of Niang’s superpowers on the court, making up for some areas he may be lacking. He doesn’t abuse it, though.

Niang likes to chat when the time is right — like when he jawed with folks on the sidelines after his clutch offensive rebound and pair of late free throws in the waning seconds Sunday against the Knicks.

“Believe it or not, I wasn’t a good athlete when I was younger,” Niang recalled, laughing. “But I always used trash talking to throw someone mentally off their game just so they would do something that I would want them to do and throw them off and help me out so I wouldn’t have to defend for longer than I had to. So that’s really where I got it from, and being around the NBA for a couple years you hear some good lines, and I was with Larry Bird in Indiana, and he’s the king of all kings when it comes to trash talking.”

The Indiana Pacers selected Niang as the 50th overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft. He joined the Jazz as a two-way player on Jan. 14 and spent time with the Jazz and Salt Lake City Stars last season, being named to the All-NBA G League First Team.

This offseason, Niang has put in countless hours in the gym with close friend and teammate Naz Mitrou-Long to chisel his frame. Folks are starting to notice his new physique, too.

Rick Bowmer, AP

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., left, defends against Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang (31) during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Tuesday, July 3, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“Aye, man, listen, if you guys get a chance to talk to him, ask him to see his guns. I think he has some abs developing,” Mitrou-Long said. “That guy has been putting in some work.

“He looks the part and he’s not playing like this by accident,” he continued. “That guy works. You’re not going to find anybody out there that works harder than him, and there’s a reason he’s doing what he’s doing.”

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Niang said he’s as confident as he’s ever felt this offseason with trust from the organization. He’s leaving the business side to his agent, and aside from his elite trash talk, his game is speaking for itself.

“People say it’s summer league, but I’m out here trying to win every game,” Niang said. “Like, I’m not cool with losing. I’m a competitor, and that’s who I am, and obviously no one likes losing, so I think focusing on going out there and winning is really all you need to do, and that other stuff with free agency hopefully will take care of itself. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

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Published at Mon, 09 Jul 2018 22:29:00 +0000