Perley’s Press Pass: Biyombo Providing Exactly What Hornets Need
Throughout the first quarter of the season, Hornets Head Coach James Borrego has continued to stress urgency for more physicality and intensity on the defensive end of the floor. Lately, veteran Bismack Biyombo has delivered precisely what the team’s been lacking when it needed it most.
Across his last five outings, the ninth-year center is averaging 10.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG (2.8 OREB), 1.4 APG and 1.2 BPG in 24.6 MPG (3 GS). Amongst players who have appeared in all five games since Nov. 22, Biyombo leads the Hornets in screen assists points (7.0), defensive rating (106.9) and net rating (7.7), while ranking second in offensive rating (114.6) and contested shots (7.8).
“He’s really been anchoring our defense right now,” said Coach Borrego before the team’s win in Detroit last Friday night. “Protecting the paint, more rim protection, just more urgency. He’s talking, his presence defensively overall has really been the main factor for us on the defensive end. He’s playing extremely hard. He runs the floor, puts a lot of pressure on the rim offensively rolling to the bucket, finishing around the rim, offensive rebounds. Overall, he’s just had a physical mentality and an urgency about him on both ends of the floor.”
As mentioned, Biyombo’s finishing and touch around the basket look noticeably improved, causing his field-goal percentage to rise to a near career-best 59.8%. Per CleaningtheGlass.com, he ranks in the 73rd percentile amongst bigs in both effective field-goal percentage (59.8%) and shooting at the rim (72%). Last season, those numbers consisted of a 55.4% effective field-goal percentage (57th percentile) and 63% conversion rate at the rim (37th percentile).
Biyombo is also getting fouled on 19.3% of his shot attempts this season, putting him in the 88th percentile for his position. He sits in the 87th percentile in non-shooting fouls drawn per team play (3.0%) and despite not being the most consistent of free-throw shooters, he’s hitting 70.0% from the line over his last seven appearances (14-of-20).
Grasping NBA defense is a challenge and can become compounded the more a team utilizes younger players on the floor. Biyombo and the other veterans have done a fantastic job with communicating and organizing their lesser-experienced teammates on that end.
“He’s talking to the younger guys every possession, every timeout,” Borrego added. “He’s been great in practice. It’s one thing to say it, but another thing to live it and he’s living it right now. Between he, Marvin and Nic, they’ve really set the tone for us defensively. Those three guys have been a real example for young guys to follow. If you want to win in this league, you’ve got to defend and those three guys have done that.”
“The goal for me is just to come in and be a defensive presence,” Biyombo simply said after the team’s home win over the Pistons last Friday night. “We all have figured the offense out. We all understand the system and what we need to do in order for us to score. Scoring is not a problem. I’m figuring out how to help my teammates, be confident, pressure the ball. Coach has put us in position to succeed as he does every night. This is fun for us. We know we’re capable of being a good team. It’s just a process. Young guys got to learn and we’ve got to continue to grow.”
It was no secret the Hornets were pointing towards playing more younger players this season, as evidenced by Biyombo beginning the year as the backup center playing about 13 minutes a night (or sometimes not at all). He’s lately become an asset on both ends of the floor and regardless of how the center pecking order plays out, he’ll hopefully remain one moving forward.