Question mark. Huge risk. Great potential. These are some of the words that have been used to describe Bismack Biyombo. The 6’9”, 240-pound big man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the entire draft. He’s played less than 20 games of high-level basketball. I’ll try to speculate on his pro prospects and potential to help Cleveland with what little we do know and what I’ve been able to glean from a couple of highlight tapes.
Athletically, Biyombo is almost as good as they come. He has great hops and not just in his first jump – his second and third jumps are as energetic and aggressive as his first. This enables him to finish with thunderous dunks after rebounds and block second-and-third attempts if his opponent regains the ball. He also runs the floor very well, showing that he’s a smooth athlete in addition to an explosive one.
Biyombo also sports an NBA body already – at the tender age of 18 if you are inclined to believe his agent, who says he has medical proof of Biyombo’s age. Though his height would put him in the middle ranks of NBA power forwards, his incredible 7’7” wingspan, along with his athleticism, more than make up for that. Finally, he was carrying just 4.8% body fat when measured at the Nike Hoop Summit.
As you can probably imagine, rebounding is one of Biyombo’s greatest strengths on the court. He grabbed 5.1 boards per game in 17 minutes of action through 14 games in the ACB, the top Spanish league. That extrapolates out to 11.6 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, according to draftexpress.com’s database.
The defensive end of the floor is where Biyombo’s makes his presence most strongly felt. He blocks an amazing 5.2 shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted. His length, athleticism and timing are a nightmare for opposing guards and big men alike. He blocked a Nike Hoop Summit-record 10 shots while recording a triple-double in a loss to the U.S. Team.
Finally, Biyombo plays with great energy, a la Joakim Noah, often clapping and exulting after plays.
Biyombo is an extremely raw offensive product. For all his athletic ability, he lacks the skills to put it to maximum use. Several times in the Hoop Summit game, Biyombo caught the ball more than a few feet from the basket and simply LEAPT toward the hoop, hoping to get as close as possible before releasing a shot. His only real options in a halfcourt offense right now appear to be a move where he spins baseline and attacks, and rolling hard to the hoop on pick and rolls.
Though his athleticism allows him to draw a ton of fouls (7.7 FTA/40m pace adjusted), he converts a lowly 55.3% of his foul shots. His shooting form is clunky.
Biyombo’s aggression on the defensive end has a downside: he’s very foul-prone. He committed two fouls per game in just 17 minutes, which extrapolates to nearly five per 40 pace adjusted.
Also, he kills nearly as many possessions with turnovers as he stops with blocked shots. Biyombo coughed the ball up on a whopping 25% of his possessions, made even worse by the fact that he assisted on just 4% of his possessions.
Biyombo looked like a man among boys at the Hoop Summit, but some have speculated that perhaps he WAS a man among boys. He’s listed at 18, but some have said he could be as old as 26 (!). It will be interesting to see what happens with the medical records his agent said he’ll produce.
How he fits with the Cavs
A player as limited offensively as Biyombo is going to need the right fit as he adds skills to his repertoire and (hopefully) develops a mid-range jumper like countryman Serge Ibaka. First and foremost, he’ll need a penetrating point guard to get him easy buckets at the rim. Luckily for Cleveland, it may be bringing in just the ticket in Kyrie Irving.
Biyombo’s potential for defensive dominance and offensive ineptitude means he will likely need an offensively skilled big to be pair with in the frontcourt. That’s a part the Cavs don’t possess right now, but could be addressed through trade or an early second-round pick like Justin Harper or JaJuan Johnson.
Biyombo presents an intriguing possibility for the Cavs, as he and Irving could be great building blocks for the future and complement each other reasonably well. At fourth overall, he’d be a huge gamble, but it may be a gamble worth taking for a franchise that needs home runs.