With Josh McRoberts and Al Jefferson firmly entrenched as the frontcourt starters after the offseason moves, it was inevitable that Bismack Biyombo's role would be impacted. Biyombo, once a staple in the starting lineup in his first two seasons, found himself coming off of the bench after November. Biyombo started nine games before December 1st and zero after that in the name of rolling with the McRoberts-Jefferson frontcourt once Jefferson returned from injury. While Biyombo was efficient, shooting just under 70 percent and proficient on the glass, he offered little in the way of helping the team's spacing because of his lack of offensive prowess. If there is anything Biyombo was, it was consistent, and for the third year big man, that was an encouraging sign.
As I mentioned above, Biyombo posted an impressive 61.1 field goal percentage in 13.9 minutes per game. Biyombo having to be a source of offense for the Bobcats was no longer necessary with McRoberts and Jefferson and simplified things by not asking him to do too much. Biyombo took 66 percent of his shots from within three feet of the rim and converted an impressive 73.7 percent of those shots via hook shot, dunk or layup. Steve Clifford pared down Biyombo's role in the offense and made it easier by focusing on one thing and doing that very well. By no means was he stretching the floor, but he wasn't supposed to, and he was more than competent at the rim.
Biyombo also thrived on the glass against other team's bench units. The center grabbed 27.6 percent of available defensive rebounds, which was by far a career high, as was his offensive and total rebounds percentages. You know, this stuff is important because it gives the Bobcats second chance points, limits their opponents abilities to do the same, and ultimately control of the game's tempo.
Additionally, Biyombo blocked a higher percentage of the team's shots than ever, and just about every defensive metric will tell you that he was a positive on the floor. If you can do things like rebound and play defense, you can carve yourself a niche in this league for years to come. What's perhaps most impressive about this is that, according to Basketball-Reference, Biyombo split his minutes playing power forward 59 percent of the time and center 41 percent. Never before had Biyombo played that many minutes at the four, so he was essentially learning a new position, but he did well against other teams' power forwards.
What's more is that Biyombo is a strong communicator and among the most vocal Bobcats on the court and seems to have an understanding of who should be where and doing what. For a third year player, this is encouraging to see.
Still, Biyombo continues to struggle with turnovers. His 17.9 turnover percentage was a career high, not by much, but still high. That number needs to at least be in the low teens just to be average. In 27.1 minutes per game last year, Biyombo had 17 lost balls, but managed to lose 15 this season in half the minutes and in three less games. This is a lot of the argument for not playing Biyombo more minutes at this point and will need to improve in this area to see the court more. Those hands, you guys, I tell ya.
If there's one thing you can count on, it's Biyombo being healthy. In three seasons, the most games Biyombo the most games he's missed in any one year is five, which gives the roster a stabilizing presence because of his durability. Since injuries are such a common occurrence in our game, this is critical, and Biyombo certainly has that going for him.
A major thing for Biyombo will be consistency in his coaches to further his development. In his first three seasons, he's had three head coaches with three different systems, which is far from ideal. Limiting his turnovers and expanding his range will enable the Bobcats to use him more, but until then he can have a role on this team as a bench player that can come in to block a few shots and keep the other team off of the glass. And that way any scoring he gets is just gravy. Being 21 years old and a big man, he still has a lot of room to grow, so it seems as if this role is ideal for him in the short term. As for the long term, it's difficult to say because big men take longer to develop, and at Biyombo's age, he can still be developed.
Grade: We had a tough time deciding on a grade for Biyombo, but the ultimate consensus was a C, though he did do well within his specific diminished role.