Charlotte Hornets: Zeller credits Biz, Willy for stepping up

Charlotte Hornets Willy Hernangomez and Cody Zeller (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Willy Hernangomez and Cody Zeller (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller is out with a broken hand, but is giving credit to Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez for emerging in his absence.

It’s been a rough stretch for the Charlotte Hornets since starting center Cody Zeller broke his hand against the Orlando Magic last month. The team has won just two of their last seven games without Zeller, but have gotten contributions with him out.

Bismack Biyombo, who had been mostly out of the rotation until this point, as stepped up in a big way after Zeller’s injury. So has Willy Hernangomez, who continues to be a force off of the bench. The Charlotte Hornets have to be happy with what they are getting from these two.

Since Zeller went out, Biyombo is averaging 7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest. Hernangomez, meanwhile, has averaged 8.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

That’s some good production from Biyombo and Hernangomez. If you add it up, they combine for 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per night during that seven game stretch.

With the team finally back home after a brutal six-game road trip, Zeller met with the media during shootaround. He praised the play of two big men, and noted that it would have been tough to pick up wins during that road trip even if he were healthy.

“Both of them have had some good streaks, especially Biz (Biyombo) played well in Denver.” Zeller said. “He had a big fourth quarter the other night. Willy’s (Hernangomez) had a good season, really pretty consistently throughout the year. Those two guys have filled in well and that was a tough road trip even if I was healthy and Jeremy (Lamb) missed a few games there. Even if both of us were healthy, it was going to be a tough road trip.”

In that game against the Denver Nuggets on January 5th, Biyombo made his first start of the season, and went off for 16 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Those sixteen points are a season-high for Biyombo, as well as the twelve rebounds.

The next night, on January 6th, the Hornets got a win over the Phoenix Suns. Hernangomez was the man that game, tying his season-high in scoring with 19 points, to go with nine rebounds and four assists.

Those are just two games, but those were the best games that Biyombo and Hernangomez have played this season, and the team competed in both games. They are both more than capable of producing when given the opportunity at big minutes.

Obviously, it would be nice if the team could pick up some extra wins with Zeller out, but still, this is easily the best that Biyombo has looked this season, Hernangomez, too. They deserve some credit for holding down that center position in Cody’s absence.

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Zeller is still going to be out for multiple weeks as he recovers, but that recovery seems to be going well, which is a positive sign. The Charlotte Hornets can’t wait to get their starting center back, but should feel comfortable with the recent play of Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez.