Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo - C - 6'9, 235
FA Ranking: 11

There are bigger needs for the Pistons this summer than finding a reliable backup C, but the amount of minutes that Detroit was forced to play Joel Anthony last season suggests that the position may be more important than most fans think.  While Anthony, who could very well be brought back, performed admirably in his 406 minutes, the role figures to be too much for him to handle this upcoming season.  With Greg Monroe's departure imminent, the Pistons will need a guy who can log well over 1,000 minutes, which is something Anthony hasn't done since the 2011-12 season.  Enter Bismack Biyombo, a possible restricted free agent coming off of somewhat of a breakout season for the Charlotte Hornets.  Biyombo posted excellent numbers in every relevant category on his way to a career-high in PER and Free Throw Rate.  There isn't a better defensive-minded C option than Biyombo, who also fits the age group that the Pistons would like to operate within.

Bismack Biyombo

Biyombo is never going to be an offensive force, and his numbers relay that.  However, his ability to block shots, rebound the ball and get to the free throw line suggest that he's absolutely suited to play the role the Pistons would be asking him to play.  Biyombo's 4.1 blocks per 100 possessions during the 2014-15 season ranked behind only Hassan Whiteside, John Henson, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis among players with at least 1,000 minutes played.  Rim protection is known as his greatest asset on the floor, and that's supported by the numbers.  However, opponents managed to shoot 49.1% against Biyombo at the rim, a number that is nowhere near elite.  Seeing as Biyombo will only turn 23 this year, it's hard to see that number getting worse as he gets older and more experienced.  For what it's worth, opponents shot a paltry 39.1% against Biyombo at the rim in the 2013-13 campaign.  Without being too picky, let's just say Biyombo's no worse than a good rim protector.

He also produced an absurd .941 FTr, where he connected on a career high 58.3% of his attempts.  Combine that with his propensity to only shoot within 3 feet of the basket (60% of his career attempts have been from 3 feet or closer) and you have a low-usage player who produces at a solid efficiency.  Nobody will ever mistake Bismack Biyombo for Tim Duncan, but the important thing is that Biyombo doesn't either.  He doesn't try to do much offensively, demonstrating that he understands why he's on the floor.

In terms of defending specific types of plays (i.e. pick-and-roll, post ups), Biyombo fell in the middle of the pack in 2014-15.  That may be a warning that his Defensive Rating was team generated.  As important as his rim protection is and will continue to be, Biyombo will need to shore up the rest of his defensive game.  That assumption relies merely on stats, as I don't have the luxury of watching Biyombo every night.  If Charlotte fans are willing to argue that Biyombo is elite overall defensively, I would be willing to listen, because the tools are almost certainly there.  If Biyombo figures it all out over the course of his next contract, whoever signs him will have a top-notch defensive presence on a valuable deal.  If he doesn't figure it out, you eat his deal and move him down the depth chart.  I'm on board for signing Biyombo because it seems like a low risk, moderate reward type of move.

The kind of contract Biyombo will garner this summer depends on whether or not the Hornets extend him a $4M qualifying offer.  If Biyombo receives the QO, any contract he signs elsewhere will have to be more lucrative than $4M annually, a mark that may scare some suitors away.  Your guess is as good as anybody else's as to whether or not Charlotte is going to make that move.  With the depth in the Charlotte frontcourt, I'm inclined to believe that he'll hit unrestricted free agency.  In that case, I would expect for Biyombo to get a deal that covers two or three years, at about $3M to $4M annually.  With the opportunity that the Pistons could provide him, Detroit shouldn't have to make an overpay to attract him, assuming there's a mutual interest.  There's been no indication that the Pistons are interested in pursuing Biyombo, I just think it would be a good idea.

There are other options to fill the backup C position.  The Pistons could hope that somebody like Dakari Johnson or Robert Upshaw falls to their pick in the 2nd round, a scenario that is highly unlikely after several first round prospects chose to return to school, making the prospect pool more shallow.  Other options in free agency include re-signing Anthony, a more established player such as Brandan Wright, or going with any of a litany of other fairly low-cost options, of which my favorites are Alexis Ajinca and Greg Smith.  Filling the spot through a trade, like they did last year by moving Will Bynum for Anthony, makes less sense this year, as the team doesn't have a readily expendable asset like Bynum.  The exception there is, maybe somebody is interested in Caron Butler's non-guaranteed deal.

Whatever they decide to do for a backup C, it's not likely to have a huge effect on the rest of the offseason.  Of the Pistons' needs (two SFs, a starting caliber PF, backup C), it's by far the least pressing, and is the position that offers the team the most flexibility in how to fill it.  With that being said, unless I'm missing something, I think it would be hard to do better than Biyombo.  The Pistons need someone who can come in and offer a defensive presence when Drummond is on the bench, and it would be even better if they can find a young player to groom along with the core.  Biyombo fits that mold perfectly, and should come at a reasonable cost, making him my top choice to fill the backup C role, with the lone exception being the unlikely signing of Brandan Wright.

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