Biyombo Gets on the Money Train

Bismack Biyombo signed a free agent deal with the Orlando Magic for $70 million. It is a four year deal. Biyombo took full advantage of the new salary cap. But first, he made everyone take notice of him in the playoffs of 2016.

Bismack Biyombo covets rebounds. He has cornered and monopolized the boards market. He averaged nearly ten rebounds per game in the postseason, and a hefty amount of those were offensive.

In case you haven’t seen him play, the 23 year old, 6’9” center spreads his arms like an elongated condor to box out every rebounder in his path as he snags the ball off the glass. He gains positioning over players who have set their feet for the board, flailing his arms over the opponent like a linebacker, and transgressing his feet over theirs before the opposing player can consider jumping. The rebound-hungry center filled the shoes of injury-prone Jonas Valanciunas, substituting powerful defense for offense.

The aggressive center was drafted seventh in his class, and the Toronto Raptors center is now changing his initially underwhelming potential when he was drafted by Sacramento and traded to Charlotte. The Congo native averaged  5 points and 5 rebounds for nearly four years from 2011-2015. However, after signing with the Toronto Raptors during free agency, Biyombo showcased his talent.

Biyombo’s box score margins have only increased by small amounts – an increase in one point and two rebounds – but his defensive presence was his greatest asset to the Toronto Raptors. Combining games three and four against the Cavaliers, Biyombo accumulated a daunting amount of rebounds, 40. Biyombo  challenged Tristan Thompson and made the Cavaliers center work for the rebounds he had been comfortably garnering all season. If Thompson can get a ridiculous contract, there is no reason to blink an eye at the $70 million Biyombo deal.

Though his clumsy feet may not look aesthetically pleasing, Biyombo’s defensive footwork and physical presence heightens fear in guards that gun to the paint. This does not phase the calm center.

Biyombo is patient, lagging in the high-post, tautly guarding the charity stripe, and daring slashing guards to take it to the hole. Surprisingly, his lateral movement is quick despite his unassuming top-heavy body. Biyombo is quickly reactive in the paint, clotting spacious lanes that become headaches for slashing and cutting guards.

According to advanced statistics in the 2015-2016 postseason, Biyombo is ranked #15 in defensive ratings. These ratings are all relative, but he is in elite company. Draymond Green, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, and Paul George are only a few players who are slightly ranked higher than the young Raptors center. Going from a prospective bust to making the Eastern Conference Finals, Biyombo surpassed expectations and played well above his salary of $3 million.

Logging over 25 minutes a game during the nerve-racking postseason, Biyombo showed signs of a starting center without having to recompense for circumstantial injuries. He truly is the epitome of low risk and high ceiling.

A free agent in this summer of money, the Raptors could not appease Biyombo when they had to give DeMar DeRozan a max deal. DeRozan is a better player. Biyombo was set free.

Teams lacking a solidified frontcourt wanted Biyombo, hoping that he would continue his defensive rampage for them. All NBA teams have to factor in the value of a rebounder in this new economic world.

All year, Biyombo was a crowd favorite. His actions emulated the antics of Metta World Peace when he was Ron Artest – bunny-hopping down the court in ecstasy, raising his hands every possession to rumble the Air Canada Centre with cheers, and smiling like a poor man’s Magic Johnson.

But his defense speaks without any of those physical manifestations of joy, the sanguine façade only a lovable perk. His badgering and nagging paint presence is his basketball identity, and this ability will surely make him a coveted player.

 

photo via llananba