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2014-15 Player Previews: Bismack Biyombo

It's Bismack Biyombo's contract year, and this might be his last shot to get a new contract with the Hornets.

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At The Hive has spent many words writing about Bismack Biyombo, dating back to our days as Rufus on Fire, and even this summer. We've had thoughts on the big man and what he can do now, and in the future. That is why I'm going to take a nontraditional route with his player preview. We already know what Biyombo can do and what he has done. However, I think the Hornets have reached a point with Biyombo where how he helps them isn't of the utmost importance.

As the new season approaches, Biyombo has two very large questions looming over him. The first question is what does he have do to prove that a new contract is deserved? He's going to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. It's very possible the Hornets choose not to extend a qualifying offer to Biyombo and let him become an unrestricted free agent. If this happens, his days with the Hornets are likely over. The second question, and this is a big one, is can Biyombo prove to the Hornets that he can be a useful part to the team? Right now, he's not a factor in the team's future.

If Biyombo wants a new contract, he's going to have to become a very good rim protector. It's been stated in the past that playing with him on offense is like playing four on five. If he can improve his defense to a level that negates his shortcomings on offense, not only would he become a very good player, but he'd be one the Hornets could use. As of now, the roster lacks a good rim protector. It looks like they're grooming Cody Zeller to be that in the future, but Charlotte wants to win now. They can't wait on Zeller forever and this is a great opportunity for him to prove himself useful to the Hornets front office. With Biyombo, the Hornets want him to go out there, gobble up rebounds, protect the paint, and be a force on that end to where teams have to think twice about him being on the floor. Is that likely? Probably not. Is it possible that he can at least become good enough to be a useful bench rim protector? Most definitely, yes. He showed us so in his limited minutes last year. Opponents True Shooting percentages went down while he was on the floor. Unfortunately, the team was still better with Biyombo off the floor.

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(Courtesy of NBA Stats)

Biyombo showed last year that he was a successful individual defender. But in the grand scheme of the team, he still has much to improve.

That bench rim-protecting role, mentioned earlier, is where Biyombo's ceiling resides. The Hornets need someone they can put next to Al Jefferson, Noah Vonleh, or one of their other offensive bigs, and feel comfortable that their defense in good hands. If he's going to get a new contract in Charlotte, that is the role he's going to need to embrace and thrive in.

Biyombo's floor as a player...well it's ugly. Right now, he's a good rebounder, an above average defender and shot blocker. His skillset suggests that he can become a monstrous rim protector, but he hasn't show us that consistently. His floor is in a place where he doesn't receive a qualifying offer, and the team goes in a different direction.

The possibility of Biyombo not being good enough to be on the Hornets makes many Charlotte fans unhappy. He's a fan favorite, and nobody has a single bad thing to say about him. He seems to have a good personality, but he's just not very good. While he's shown improvement — especially last year — his improvements haven't come at a very fast pace. Maybe this is the year where he puts it together. I don't know. All we know is that this season is a very important one for Biyombo.