Bismack Biyombo burst onto the scene with his game changing play in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, but the 23 year old center has slowly been making a name for himself over the past two seasons.
The Lakers are entering a crucial part of their rebuild. They have tanked for their youth, now the time to build upon the youth has come. Assuming the Lakers draft Brandon Ingram, their biggest hole will be the center position. I have been on the Bismack to LA train for most of the year, and after his playoff performances, I am all in. The Lakers first target should be Hassan Whiteside, but if that fails, they should look no further than Biyombo.
Biyombo is a near flawless fit for the Lakers. He rebounds, plays defense, and to my surprise, he excels in the pick and roll. Last season, Biyombo was 84.5 percentile as the roll man with a 1.18 points per possession. The Raptors scored on 63.3% of their pick and roll plays that featured Biyombo as the roll man. One of the biggest issues for D’Angelo Russell last season was the lack of an adequate roll man, and if Biyombo, who is only “23”, can continue his play in P&R or even improve, he and Russell could be deadly duo.
Other than proficiency in the pick and roll, Biyombo is the model of a defense anchor. In only 22 minutes per game, Biyombo put up 1.6 blocks and 8 rebounds. He’s athletic, and while his height might make you think otherwise, his standing reach of 9’3.5” gives him elite length. We’ve seen how he can control a game with just rebounding and shot blocking like he did against the Cavs, and as he gets older and develops more, assuming he is actually 23, you can guess he’ll continue to improve. It’s hard to quantify defense statistically, but the metrics we do have favor Biyombo, such as Defensive Box Plus/Minus (2.3) and Defensive Win Shares (3.1). His general contribution on offense is low, usually slightly below league average, but his defensive contributions more than make up for it.
I imagine Biyombo being used in the Ezeli or Bogut role. He should start at center, but see reduced minutes due to whatever version of the death lineup the Lakers try to employ. This should keep him fresh all season and give Luke Walton the option to play him more minutes during favorable matchups. Biyombo’s athleticism can also be utilized in smaller lineups if he shows the ability to guard smaller forwards or if the other teams don’t go small with the Lakers.
The Lakers have enough cap room for 2, maybe 3 max contracts depending on how they deal with other players. Most of the other top centers will cost the Lakers one of those max slots, but Biyombo likely will not. Even with Biyombo playing himself into more money during the post-season, I expect him to net in the neighborhood of $16 million per. That would be the high end of what I would feel comfortable spending on him, but with the expected cap spikes, the Lakers can do it. The Lakers need young talent that fits and Biyombo is exactly that. There’s no telling as of now if the Lakers have interest in Biyombo or if Biyombo has interest in them. But at only 23, it might be intriguing to him to join a young, talented core like the Lakers and have a place he can call home.
All stats from NBA.com and Basketball Reference