The Charlotte Bobcats understand that Bismack Biyombo is a long-term project for the team.
At 6’9 with a 7’6 wingspan and the ability to leap out the gym, Biyombo brings freakish athleticism and physical traits to the table. Biyombo, 20, hasn’t had a lot of basketball experience at any level. He’s the posterboy for what it means to be a raw talent. His age, inexperience and athletic ability contributes to his high upside. His lack of basketball skills and general knowledge also contributes to the risk the Bobcats took when acquiring him.
Despite his inexperience Biyombo made the 100th start of his Bobcats career last night against the Miami Heat. In two seasons with the Bobcats Biyombo averages 4.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 24.9 minutes. He doesn’t shoot a high percentage from the field at 45.1% and is one of the league’s worst free throw shooters at 49.8%.
Biyombo is by no means a statistical wonder. He has a measly 9.8 player efficiency rating this season with 59 starts. Biyombo joins Kendrick Perkins and Udonis Haslem as players who have started at least 40 games this season and have a PER of 10 or less. While Biyombo’s shot-blocking plays a fine role on the team, his lack of production is one of the bigger pieces in what makes the Bobcats frontcourt a liability.
As the clock winds on Biyombo’s sophomore season, the Bobcats still need more out of their starting center. Biyombo’s struggles would be a lot easier to deal with if his flashes of brilliance were more than just blips on the radar. He has just nine double doubles in 137 games as a Bobcat. A player with Biyombo’s length and athletic ability, who also starts, should be someone who projects as a double-figure rebound. Per 36 minutes, Biyombo averages just 9.4 rebounds a game. When you look at the physical traits Biyombo has, you’d hope that number would be in the 10’s, maybe even 11’s. A lot of times it doesn’t feel like Biyombo plays as athletic as he tests. He lacks the fire that could make him a terror as a starting center.
If Biyombo is going to show improvement, it has to start with his rebounding and athleticism. Biyombo needs to be a lot more active on both sides of the ball and show more awareness. The chances Biyombo will be a great scorer are slim to none. However, it doesn’t mean he can’t be a player like Tyson Chandler or Kenneth Faried who’s capable of catching the ball and finishing over defenders and with authority in space. Biyombo has an estimated field goal percentage of 49% on his offense inside the paint. That number needs to be in the high 50’s or 60’s. He has the athleticism and length to do so. If Biyombo rebounds, runs the floor, and improves on his free throw shooting, he could certainly be a 10-12 point player. This also involves him improving his ball control and being able to secure passes.
A lot of Biyombo’s game is just about accepting what he’ll likely never be elite at, but playing to the strengths of his athletic and physical ability. Next season will be a big determinant in Biyombo’s future with the team, and that’s when you’ll hope to see him make a jump. With six games left in the 2013 season, there’s still time for Biyombo to light a fire and show that he can legitimately be an NBA starting center.