Bismack Biyombo blocks shots. The Toronto Raptors brought in the Charlotte Hornets discarded big man because of his defense and rim protection, but after the last game of the 2014-15 regular season, Biyombo told Pro Bball Report he has an offensive game too and he was going to surprise some people. It was one of the reasons we believed he should be a free agent target.
Biyombo came into the NBA as a legitimate future hack-a-big man candidate. He couldn’t hit free throws, shooting just 48.3 percent from the charity stripe as a rookie, but that’s not really true any more. Each year he worked on his shooting stroke and this season he’s been to the line 169 times and made 64.5 percent of his tosses.
The occasional mid range jumper has been falling as well and it’s becoming less of a surprise to see it drop, but Biyombo is still doing dunks or layups 2/3rds of the time and finishing better than 65 percent of his attempts within three feet of the rim. However, Biyombo really does believe in expanding his offensive game.
“I work each and every night, before and after practice I come come back in the gym when no body is around here and get my work in and go home and come back and play the game,” Biyombo said. “The hard work always pays off. I believe in it.”
The hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Right from the beginning of the season his teammates have been feeding him the ball in the post and for short jumpers, even in situations that made a lot of people cringe. He deserved to get those chances to score because of his defensive effort, but those cringe worthy situations usually didn’t turn out well.
Biyombo was often tentative at the offensive end, but he’s gotten better as the season has progressed. He’s not hesitating when he needs to take a jump shot and he’s stopped bringing the ball down when catching it in the post. His confidence is higher and it shows.
“Trust in myself and have confidence in my shot,” Biyombo explained. “If I shoot it and make it, I make it. If I shoot it and miss it, I miss it. For me it is a reward for myself and I am taking them with confidence. If I make it, I was supposed to make it because I worked for it. For me it is being able to play with confidence, being able to focus on myself and not get distracted with wanting to do so many things at the same time. Do one thing at a time. Know what I know how to do and get out there and have fun with it and obviously it is paying off.”
Biyombo hasn’t been ignoring his defense. The Raptors did well picking up this rim protector. He’s second in the the NBA blocking six percent of the two point attempts while he is on the floor – just ahead of Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan. Head coach Dwane Casey trusts his big man at the end of games when he needs to get stops. The improving offense has been a bonus.
“I think everybody is comfortable and fits into the system,” Biyombo said. “As a team we are getting better and I think that’s the most important thing. Guys are playing together, guys are playing better and as we get closer to the playoffs we are going to need everybody if we want to accomplish something special.
“At the end of the day, I just want to go deeper in the playoffs and have a special year with the team.”
Biyombo is having a special year with his new team. Off the scrap heap and into an important role on a contender. It’s good to know that his goals extend beyond what he’s done in the regular season.
You never know for sure if a young player is going to step up when their opportunity knocks. The Charlotte Hornets certainly didn’t think Bismack Biyombo would be setting new career bests this early in the season or they just might have not let him walk away in free agency to the Toronto Raptors for nothing at the end of his rookie contract.