The Charlotte Hornets had a very disappointing 2014-2015 season filled with too few positives. When there were positives to be found, chances are it was Bismack Biyombo.
Long a disappointment in the eyes of many fans since he has drafted seventh overall in the 2011 draft, Biyombo finally seemed to put it all together for stretches this season, giving fans a taste of what they all had hoped to see when the Hornets got him. While there is still plenty of room in Biyombo's game, this season was a massive step in the right direction.
It took a while to get Bismack Biyombo on the floor (remember the #BringBackTheBiz movement?), but once he did get on the floor, he was quite efficient. Had he qualified, he would have finished...
- second in block percentage (6.3 percent)
- seventh in offensive rebound percentage (13.7 percent)
- eighth in defensive rating (99)
- thirteenth in defensive box plus/minus (2.8)
There were 19 games this season in which he played 20 to 29 minutes. In those games, he averaged 7.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, usually coming off the bench. When he did start, he had an offensive rating of 123. Post All-Star break, his free throw shooting, long one of his biggest weaknesses, showed dramatic improvement, as he shot 68 percent from the charity stripe. On field goal attempts within three feet of the basket, where most of a center's shots would be expected to come from, Biyombo shot 65.7 percent. Of the Hornets top five lineups based on +/-, Biyombo was a key part of three of those lineups.
He had career-highs in PER (15.2, fifth-best on the team), free throw attempt rate (.941, meaning he took almost one free throw for ever field goal he attempted), offensive rebound percentage (13.7 percent, just missing out on the top ten in the league in this statistic), offensive win shares (1.8, tied for best on the team), defensive win shares (2.2, tied for fifth on the team), win shares (4.0, fourth-best on the team. Are you catching onto the trend yet?), value over replacement player (0.5, sixth-best on the team), free throws attempted and made per game, free throw percentage
It is well known that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the Hornets' most important player. Their record without him spoke for itself. If he is their number one Most Improved Player, then Biyombo is number two. Without Biyombo, this season, Charlotte was an abysmal 4-17. That's a winning percentage of just 19 percent.
Basically, he's the hero we deserve, but not the one we need right now.
(Ed note, effective immediately Russell has been fired for this awful joke-Chris)
Bismack Biyombo was always fine when it came to the defensive side of the ball, but it was his offensive game that really grew this year. In the past, when he got the ball in the post, you could see the wheels turning in his head as he figured out what he wanted to do. He ultimately moved too slow and the majority of his offensive possessions ended in a terrible hook shot.
While that still happened more times than one would ideally want to see, Biyombo made massive strides this season. Biyombo finally showed signs of knowing what he wanted to do before he got the ball, and more often than not, it ended quite well.
He also showed that he can become DeAndre Jordan Lite when placed in pick and roll situations where he can roll to the basket, and then use his athleticism to jump high for an alley-oop. He was possibly the only Hornet to form a positive connection with Lance Stephenson consistently when they shared the floor. The two seemed to have an instant chemistry on the offensive end, and it was quite evident. Of all of Biyombo's alley-oop dunks, I would be willing to bet that the majority came from Mr. Born Ready himself.
It is also worth remembering that Biyombo is just 22 years old and still has plenty of time to grow and improve his game, and he has proven that he has the work ethic to do just that.
Biyombo had plenty of memorable blocks and dunks this season, as Hornets.com highlighted here.
But his top play, in my opinion, is when he did this with a BROKEN NOSE AND NO MASK ON in a do or die playoff-like game for the Hornets against the division rival Miami Heat.
Biyombo was probably the most active Hornet off the court, at least when it came to social media. He tweets nearly every day from his Twitter account and is often very positive, thanking God for another day and encouraging #BizNation to go have a great day. He is more of the most friendly athletes I have had the pleasure of speaking with when we spoke during Hornets Media Day. He never forgets what life in this native Congo is like and is truly grateful for the opportunities he has, and it shows.
He also pulled the Good Samaritan move of the year when he befriended a homeless man in Chicago.
Good morning people! Was Bless last night in Chicago to spent time with this great homeless person, who I so sleeping outside as I was walking around the city, he was cover with few things and I spoke to him and after we spoke, I ask him if he want it to get food and he said man I will love to but I can't go into a restaurant. I ask him why? He said because of the way I'm dressing and the way I look.. I could believe it or no? But I want it to experience that myself, as we walk around the mall before we go get some food, officers had to ask if he was with me until we get to the restaurant!! The amazing thing is that I had a great diner and great time and some great conversation and what we did after is between God of this universe and I... This guy read books and is recommendation was this Book call the secret that going to be my next Book!! So people I will just ask you to help because you want to not because you have to.. Help build a better society, be part of something special!! God bless #Godwill #Biznation
That is the kind of player you want representing your franchise right there.
This is where things get fun. Biyombo's rookie contract expired after this past season, and the team has the chance to make a qualifying offer on him. But until then, the best way to sum up Bismack Biyombo's future in Charlotte could very well be this:
Did he do enough last season for the team to want him back? Do they want to lock him up long term now? Would they want to risk him hitting the market and seeing what he is worth? What about the salary cap rise that will take place next season? How does that play into everything?
Hopefully, #BizNation will be back in Charlotte in full force for the 2015-2016 season come the end of the day. It has been wonderful seeing Biyombo evolve and transform into the person and player he has become, which is quite refreshing given all the negative news surrounding many athletes today.