Bismack Biyombo Continues Providing Leadership, Guidance to Young Hornets Core

by Sam Perley

Veteran leadership is imperative on any NBA roster, especially when most of a team’s players are still in the early stages of their respective professional careers. Throughout one of the craziest, unforeseen seasons in recent memory, center Bismack Biyombo was a stabilizing force in more ways than one for the Hornets this year.

Tallying overall averages of 5.0 points on 58.7% shooting – his highest efficiency since 2014 – 5.3 rebounds, a career-high 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks (18th in the NBA) over 66 appearances (36 starts), Biyombo started the year as the team’s backup five. Cody Zeller fracturing his hand on Opening Night then pushed the Congolese native into the starting lineup for the next month.

A reliable source of rebounding, rim protection, light-heartedness and fun all year long, Biyombo was still coming to terms with the season’s abrupt ending one day after losing by 27 on the road in Indiana in the NBA Play-In Tournament back on May 18.

“I think the season for us has been challenging, but we’re still processing it,” he said during exit interviews. “I feel like we somewhat missed out on an opportunity to be in the playoffs. I think that’s what’s most disappointing and as a player, you really have to take some time to think about that. I’ve missed playoffs [before], but for some reason, this one has been tough so far.”

He added, “We have players and we’re capable of doing it, but obviously, things you can’t control [happened]. It’s a sense of lost opportunity, not accomplishment. Nobody wanted to rely on the Play-In Tournament. We have a lot of winners that want to win and it’s unfortunate the circumstances that we went through – injuries, COVID, all that stuff – but that’s an excuse anybody could put up.”

A six-game losing streak to close the schedule certainly left an undesirable, lasting taste in everybody’s mouth, although Biyombo still managed to pinpoint an encouraging element showcased by the Hornets over the course of the condensed season.

“The most special part was that this was a team where nobody had an ego,” he said. “We trusted each other, supported each other. We didn’t want to hear the outside noise. When you’re around a team that doesn’t have egos, it’s easy to lead and be a voice of the team. People are able to listen and you can listen to other people give their opinion and be willing to understand where the other person is coming from. I think overall, we trusted and relied on each other. I think that was the most special part about this season.”

Biyombo also developed a fairly close relationship with rookie LaMelo Ball in particular, mentioning earlier in the season that the pair shared a common bond having both entered the NBA directly from overseas teams. “Biz is a great guy – like a big brother to me,” said Ball. “We just have conversations, all types of talks. There’s a lot of time that’s been put into [our relationship]. That’s my boy.”

Now with 10 years of NBA experience under his belt – seven of which coming in Charlotte – Biyombo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer for the second consecutive offseason. While he hadn’t thought too much about the process when the season ended, the now 28-year-old is confident there is certainly something special brewing in Buzz City.

“As an organization, we have a desire to build a winning culture and that’s what we’re all aiming for. With COVID, everybody was challenged physically and emotionally and we were all about to get through it. That’s part of us growing and there’s a lot to learn from this year. Going into next season, however it’s going to play out, we all have a job to do.”


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