Orlando Magic: Appreciating Bismack Biyombo

Although an expensive summer addition given his skill set, it’s time we appreciated all that Bismack Biyombo does for the Orlando Magic.

The Orlando Magic have returned from the All-Star break with more positive vibes.

With the addition of Terrence Ross from the Toronto Raptors, early signs point to a more cohesive product on both ends of the court.

A spot in the postseason is likely beyond them now, but for the first time in what feels like forever, there’s reason for real optimism around the organization.

Nikola Vucevic is giving this team double-doubles on most nights, while Aaron Gordon is progressing nicely.

The point guard position remains up for grabs and the team has its own pick in this summer’s draft (a point guard-heavy one).

However, one player who you won’t see get too many of the headlines for this uptick in the team’s fortunes is center Bismack Biyombo.

Nov 25, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) pleads to a referee about a technical foul called on him during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards at Amway Center. The Wizards won 94-91. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

This is to be expected, he is non-existent offensively and thrives in the less-than-exciting areas of screening and rebounding.

But with this team looking to build momentum for next season, when Biyombo could become even more important to the team, it’s time to give him his due.

First though a confession, I was quick to dismiss Biyombo for the first half of the season.

Here was a guy who was taking minutes away from Vucevic, the team’s best, most consistent player for the last two plus seasons.

At one point both their defensive plus-minus numbers were near equal as well, so it puzzled me why Biyombo was starting.

He was also an expensive addition, at four years and $72 million, for what he provided for this team.

My opinion on that matter still hasn’t changed, the guy was overpaid. The team could have kept either Kyle O’Quinn or Dewayne Dedmon around instead.

Both were cheaper options allowed to walk and both currently boast a better defensive rating (Dedmon 3.7, O’Quinn 3.9) than Biyombo (2.6).

If you look at the rebounding numbers per 36 minutes for the three (fairest way to do this as none are starters but all have started at least eight games this season), Biyombo still falls short.

Dedmon is averaging 13.7 on a fantastic as usual San Antonio Spurs team. For O’Quinn, he’s grabbing 13.1 on a New York Knicks team that is once again drowning in dysfunction.

O’Quinn’s numbers are even more impressive given he’s had to split time with Joakim Noah (before injury) and Willy Hernangomez (a real bright spot for this team).

Biyombo is corralling 11.2 rebounds in the same time frame and while it’s a healthy number, it still lags behind the two former Magic big men.

Clearly then there is work to be done, but Biyombo is playing with inferior teammates. The departed Serge Ibaka was also taking rebounds and numbers away from the big man.

With Ross in and Ibaka out, the nuances in Biyombo’s game are already become more clear.

In the Magic’s first game back after all All-Star break, he led the team in match rating, with a score of plus-10.

That he played the fewest minutes of any player who suited up (15) is concerning, however. Surely the team paid for more than 15 minutes worth of production?

Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks brought less production from Biyombo, but he did lead the team in blocks with three.

So although it’s not wrong to want more out of the guy, we really shouldn’t be surprised with his output.

He’s just doing what he’s always done, with his effective field goal percentage (52.9 percent) right around his career average of 51 percent.

Biyombo is actually averaging a career high in points too. The only issue there is that, at six points per night, it’s nothing to write home about.

Offensively he’s giving you nothing more, although he actually produced a bounce pass any player would have been proud of to set up a Jeff Green three-point play in the loss to the New York Knicks.

Once again in that game, it was Biyombo who led the team in plus/minus (plus-7), while also logging seven rebounds in 21 minutes (O’Quinn had seven in 19 minutes).

Despite those unimpressive numbers however, it’s no secret that Biyombo excels on the defensive end.

He sets some of the meanest screens in the league and he runs the floor diligently.

If Dwight Howard was previously the big man who wanted more touches, Biyombo is the complete opposite.

Rebounding, contesting shots and setting screens, that is what he is here to do. These are also things he does extremely well.

It is possible to see Biyombo appear to go games at a time without actually dribbling the ball.

While this stagnates the offense, it allows the team’s more creative players to shine, while Biyombo acts as a defensive blanket.

It also shows unselfishness and it is also fair to say that Biyombo’s offensive awareness and ability to roll to the basket are improving.

He seems to have a great understanding with Mario Hezonja and while that is simply an eye-test statement, it would be interesting to see them play more minutes together.

All of which is to say that we need to take some time to appreciate Bismack Biyombo and all that he does for the Orlando Magic.

Is he overpaid? Yes. A luxury on a lottery-bound team still searching for its identity? Also yes. He is also anemic offensively.

But he is doing exactly what he was signed to do and, despite the numbers being low, is doing it better than ever before it certain areas.

With Serge Ibaka gone and the paint his to patrol alone when on the court, his influence on this team is on

We need to appreciate all he is doing for this team now, because his productivity is only going to increase.

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