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Raptors Player Review: The Breakout of Bismack Biyombo

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After a low key and lacklustre start to his career in Charlotte, Biyombo's season in Toronto has vaulted him into a star of NBA Twitter and one of the best defensive big men in the league.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Bismack Biyombo became a Raptor on July 4th of 2015, when Masai Ujiri inked the Congolese centre to a two-year, $6 million deal using the mini mid-level exception.

Ten months later, Biyombo's contributions to the 2015-16 Raptors were far from mini, as he was taking over the Playoffs amidst the run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the first round there was the dunk in Game 5 against the Pacers that ignited the incredible 23-2 run. In the second round, Biyombo became the starter when Jonas Valanciunas went down with the ankle injury, and announced his presence in the starting lineup with a bang. His breakout continued in the following three games of the series, culminating in his performance of the year in Game 7 (more on that later).

The Conference Finals are where the legend of Biyombo grew to mythical heights, as Bismack became a superstar for Games 3 and 4 as the Raps evened the series.

Without scoring until midway through the fourth quarter in Game 3, he owned the defensive end of the floor, registering 4 blocks and grabbing a whopping 26 rebounds, a total which put him in the company of Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan as the only players with more than 25 boards in a playoff game since 1984.

In Game 4 he only grabbed 14 rebounds and scored five points, but what stood out were the blocks at the rim. The off hand rejection of Kevin Love was marvellous, and the meeting with LeBron James high above the rim was one of the most athletic plays you'll ever see:

The playoff run of excellence aside, Biyombo upped nearly all his stats this season and will be getting PAID this off-season for the culmination of his improvements.

Statistics

Starting with the basics, Biyombo played all 82 games for the first time in his career and upped his averages to 5.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. He also shot 54.2% from the floor while shooting over 60% at the free throw line for the first time in his career at 62.8.

During the playoff run the per game averages stayed about the same, as he posted 6.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while the field goal percentage rose to 58%.

The advanced stats are where his rebounding and defensive prowess show out, as he was fifth in the NBA in both Defensive Rebound Percentage (DRB%) at 29.5 and Total Rebound Percentage (TRB%) at 20.8. Biyombo's block percentage was even more impressive as he was 2nd in the league at 6.1, only topped by Hassan Whiteside's at 9.7. He also posted an individual defensive rating of 100.8, good enough for 15th best in the Association.

Best Game

May 15th - Game 7 vs. Miami Heat

In the eventual 116-89 blowout victory to reach the first Conference Final in Franchise history, Biyombo had every facet of his game rolling in domination of the small-ball Heat front line.

40 minutes of action netted Biyombo a final stat line of 17 points on 6-8 from the floor and 5-12 from the free throw line, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks and a +25 net rating and some soul crushing slams:

Worst Game

April 1st @ Memphis

While it's hard to pinpoint any full games where Biyombo was a full detriment to the team's performance, his worst statistical performance came in a win against the Grizzlies. Biyombo picked up 5 fouls, only grabbed one rebound and posted a -14 in just 11:57 of action.

Where Biyombo did cost the team possessions seemed to be earlier in the year when he'd catch a case of the stone hands, or struggle to get that put back bucket after a flurry of offensive rebounds.

Strengths & Weaknesses

+ Elite shot blocker and rim protector

+ Relentless Rebounder

+ Athleticism; Runs the floor extremely well and jumps with explosion

+ Glue guy that won't ruffle feathers about his role

- Offense limited to the paint

- Occasionally gets flustered when trying to secure the ball

- Free Throw Shooting

Role Next Season

As I'm writing this the day after the Draft in which the Raps selected Jakob Poeltl with the 9th selection, all signs point to Bismack's tenure in Toronto being left at this one special season.

With the cap explosion imminent, Biyombo would be foolish to stay in Toronto for less money and his backup role when there are many teams who need his skill set and can promise a starting role and a much higher salary in free agency.

It will be tough to see him go, but you can guarantee when Biz returns to the ACC next season in a new uniform he'll receive a raucous standing ovation.

A Tweet To Sum It All Up