It’s clear that Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford is going to ride the hot hand until it freezes up. It’s the only explanation as to why Jeff Adrien, undrafted out of Connecticut, has forced his way into the rotation over former lottery pick Bismack Biyombo. While the decision isn’t likely to sit well with those who prefer to see a jump in Biyombo’s development, by the numbers Clifford is making the right decision in order for the Bobcats to remain competitive.
5 – The number of minutes Biyombo has played over the last three games.
Biyombo is very much in the same position Ben Gordon is. Clifford doesn’t believe in playing a surplus of position players and wants to keep the rotation as tight and fluid as possible.
Biyombo has shown some encouraging signs this season. He has a 64.5 field goal percentage as a result of doing more with less and he’s averaging a career-high 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. Unfortunately, Biyombo is still struggling to score—he’s averaging just 6.3 points per 36 minutes. The Bobcats are a whopping 12.7 points better on offense with Biyombo on the bench.
Factor in that Biyombo isn’t playing as well defensively (team is giving up less with him off the floor) and it’s not surprising to see him out of the rotation.
18.7 – Adrien’s Player Efficiency Rating through 11 games
Adrien is second on the team in PER this season—raise your hand if you called that one. Per minute, Adrien is much more efficient than Biyombo, averaging 2.4 blocks and 12.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. More impressive is that Adrien is averaging 2.3 offensive rebounds in roughly 15 minutes. Offensive rebounding is one sign of the level of motor a player possesses, and Adrien is looking to work harder than any player on the floor.
Simply put—Adrien is doing a better job at Biyombo’s role than Biyombo has in two-plus seasons.
48 – The number of minutes Adrien has played over the last three games.
The Bobcats defense gives up 106.1 points per 100 possessions with Adrien off the floor, but holds opponents to six fewer points when Adrien is on the floor. Even though Adrien isn’t a prolific offensive player, the Bobcats score 6.1 more points with him on the floor. The result is that the Bobcats are 12.1 points better with Adrien in the lineup.
Like all advanced statistics, plus-minus is a defective stat; not all things good or bad happen because of one player’s insertion into a lineup, or desertion. However, it hasn’t been difficult to notice the extra gear Adrien infuses into the Bobcats lineup when he’s in the game.
$916,099 – Adrien’s unguaranteed salary this season.
Along with Kemba Walker and Jeff Taylor, Adrien is one of the best bargains on the Bobcats roster. Adrien played a little more than 700 minutes last season, but his production was in line with his brief stops in Golden State and Houston. Adrien will become a free agent next summer and if he continues his play, he could be in for a sizeable raise.
$3,873,398 – Biyombo’s guaranteed salary next season.
In October the Bobcats exercised Biyombo’s team option for 2014-15. Despite signing Al Jefferson in free agency and selecting Cody Zeller in the draft, the Bobcats maintained Biyombo would have a role on the team. Biyombo’s immediate future suggests otherwise and the Bobcats are responsible for roughly $7 million through 2015 for their former starting center.
Biyombo should be used as trade bait, but the Bobcats aren’t likely to get anything significant in return. If the Bobcats knew there was a reasonable chance Biyombo would fall out of the rotation this season, they might have leaned towards waiving the fourth year of Biyombo’s contract.