Bismack Biyombo had only played 16 total minutes in the Charlotte Bobcats’ previous four games, including two games where he did not see the court at all. On Friday night in the Bobcats’ 92-76 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Biyombo finally got back into the rotation and played like a man who did not want to sit on the bench any longer.
In 16 first half minutes, Biyombo totaled 12 rebounds, which surpassed his previous season-high for an entire game (11). The reserve center finished the game with 14 rebounds in 20 minutes, and when he was on the court Biyombo was undoubtedly the best rebounder that either team had to offer. Biyombo also added seven points on only four shot attempts.
Recently, power forward Jeff Adrien has been the player taking most of Biyombo’s rotational minutes, averaging over 17 minutes per game over the last six contests. Before this recent stretch, Adrien had only averaged slightly more than 6 minutes per game. Adrien has played well in his increased minutes; however, he still has his deficiencies, as he is an undersized 6’7’’ power forward.
On the other hand, Biyombo has the body type and size to be a dominant NBA big man, but his actual basketball skills are lacking in several areas. Just three seasons ago, prior to his rookie season, Biyombo had to spend entire practices learning how to catch the basketball correctly – showing just how far the now 21-year-old had to go to be a productive NBA center.
Biyombo still has a long way to go, but it is games like Friday against the Bucks that shows everyone that it is too early to give up on the former first round draft pick. Even after not playing significant minutes in over a week, Biyombo came in and gave the Bobcats a much-needed spark off the bench in a 16 point blowout win.
Not only is Biyombo just 21 years old and still improving, but he is also a perfect fit for head coach Steve Clifford’s style of play. Clifford has emphasized that the Bobcats will be a sound, fundamental defensive team and that their defense will be the reason they win games.
This is evident by Charlotte allowing the least amount of fast-break points in the NBA, as well as the third fewest points in the paint, and the fourth fewest points allowed per game. When Biyombo is on the floor, it would be hard to argue that the Bobcats have a better defensive player – with the exception of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
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At this point in his career it is clear that Biyombo is not ready to be a NBA starting center. However, if the Bobcats were to use him 18-20 minutes a night as a defensive spark off the bench, I think it would make one of the NBA’s best defensive units even better.
It is too early to give up on the 7th overall pick from the 2011 NBA draft, especially when Biyombo is showing improvement across almost every area of his game. This improvement includes his offensive game where he is shooting over 65 percent from the field, compared to only 46 percent in his first two seasons.
With the one-two punch of starting center Al Jefferson and Biyombo playing 48 minutes a night at the center position, the Charlotte Bobcats will have great offensive and defensive balance at a position that most NBA teams lack.
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