It's no secret the Toronto Raptors' defence took a major step backwards in 2014-15. Perimeter players were getting exposed left and right and the team didn't have the rim-protecting big to compensate.
This glaring weakness was amplified when the Washington Wizards laughed the Raptors out of the playoffs with a first-round sweep. Overall, Dwane Casey's group finished 23rd in defensive efficiency after ranking ninth the year prior.
Toronto has placed an increased focus on the defensive side of the ball so far this off-season, trading away Greivis Vasquez and letting Lou Williams walk, while drafting Delon Wright, and signing free agents DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph and Bismack Biyombo - the subject of this piece.
Biyombo, who inked a two-year, $6 million contract, is technically a centre, but comes in at a mere six-foot-nine. However, don't let the height fool you. What the former seventh overall pick lacks in size, he makes up for with raw athleticism. This tantalizing potential is what lured the Charlotte Hornets (then Bobcats) into drafting him so early in 2011.
Like fellow Congo player Serge Ibaka, Biyombo is a prime-time shot-blocker, as witnessed by his whopping 1.5 blocks per game in less than 20 minutes of run per night this past season. Unfortunately, the comparisons stop there as the 23-year-old has not developed the polish Ibaka now possesses.
Here are the statistics from his most recent season in Charlotte: 4.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.3 steals, 0.8 turnovers in 19.4 minutes per game. He's effective from the field (mostly due to his shot selection), shooting 54 percent, but a liability at the free-throw line at 58 percent. Could we see some 'hack-a-Bismack' employed by opposing coaches?
When you extrapolate the stats to a per-36-minute basis, and let's hope he doesn't log that kind of action, you get production to the tune of 8.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and an astronomical 2.9 blocks.
Now that we see what kind of rebounding and shot-blocking Biyombo brings to the table, let's look at his offensive game, or lack thereof. He is money from within five feet of the rim, connecting on 60 percent of attempts, feasting on put-backs and dunks, but don't expect much else. Biyombo took a mere 32 shots from five feet and out this past season, making only eight of those attempts. Furthermore, he made one (ONE) field goal from 10 feet or beyond. You can find his entire shooting stats here.
So, how many minutes will this offensively limited big man see on a nightly basis? Likely not very many. Casey already shows reluctance to play Jonas Valanciunas down the stretch, and it's doubtful his new centre will see any burn during crunch time, save for purely defensive situations. Biyombo slides in directly behind JV at centre and Patrick Patterson at power forward, and Casey's willingness to go small and play either Carroll or James Johnson at the four spot for extended periods will determine his total playing time.
This signing certainly addresses a need the Raptors had heading into the off-season, but fans expecting Biyombo to be a big difference maker will probably be disappointed.
What do you guys think of Biyombo?