Among Raptors' regulars (>200 minutes played), who would you guess has the 4th best PER? Who would you guess has the second best TS%? What about the highest free throw rate (FTA per FGA) on the team? How about 4th most offensive and total win shares?
Odds are you wouldn't guess Bismack Biyombo (or at least not without a little help from the title of this piece).
There are other benchmarks, good and bad, that are more obvious -- second highest turnover rate on the team, highest block rate on the team (by a sizeable margin), second highest offensive rebound rate, highest defensive rebound rate, lowest assist rate on the team, lowest usage on the team, second most defensive win shares, worst offensive box plus minus (basketball-reference's adjusted plus minus stat), best defensive box plus minus.
Biyombo is a player of extremes, and this year those extremes have balanced out to a positive contributor and one of the more important pieces on the team.
Same Old Biyombo
And none of this should be a surprise. Bismack is performing almost exactly the same as last season. Look at this:
Measure | 2014-15 | 2015-16
PER: 15.2, 15.0
TS%: 57.8, 59.3
TRB%: 18.0, 20.9
AST%: 2.0, 2.3
BLK%: 6.3, 6.1
TOV%: 16.5, 16.0
USG%: 11.6, 11.3
WS/48: .156, .158
That's an incredible amount of similarity for a player changing teams. So, this is always the Biyombo we were going to get. And considering how good he's been, it makes it more and more of a mystery why the Hornets would have cut him loose last summer.
Biyombo is pretty good defensively. And it's pretty noticeable when he's out there, covering up for mistakes made by others.
He's played over 100 minutes with nine different teammates this season. With four of them, the team has a sub-100 defensive rating (DRTG) while they are on the court. That's pretty incredible. It should come as no surprise that the four teammates are his fellows from the Lowry plus bench lineup, which on the season has a 93.1 DRTG.
And while it's true that Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson have a lot to do with that, and they are doing it against bench units, that's still an amazing defensive efficiency. And the same lineup with Jonas Valanciunas is just as good overall, but definitely takes a step back defensively (100.6 DRTG, still very good but not elite like the Biyombo lineup).
This is the bad side of the coin. Though, thankfully Biyombo has been able to avoid completely cratering the offence in spite of his being no offensive threat, mainly through his use of screens set for the Raptors' top guards, his offensive rebounding, and an improved ability to hit free throws (up to a career high 64% from 58% last season, though he is taking fewer attempts).
And the result? Against all odds, he does not have the worst on-court offensive rating (ORTG) on the team. He settles in nicely (at 104.9) right behind James Johnson (104.5) and Luis Scola (104.6), thanks to that abysmal starting lineup we've been treated to over large chunks of the season, and fairly close to Terrence Ross' on-court number as well. With his defensive impact, all you look for is for him to keep his head above water offensively, and he's been doing that just fine.
Overall, Bismack Biyombo has been a tremendous addition to this team, who was surprisingly available for $2.8 million last summer. He will be looking at a large raise after this season, in spite of largely doing what he has always done, because he's contributing to a winning team and making a noticeable difference on the defensive end (and surviving on the offensive end). Here's hoping the Raptors can find a way to keep him as part of possibly the best centre tandem in the league today.