What To Do With Biz?

Standard

Picked seventh overall in the 2011 Draft, Bismack Biyombo entered the league with high expectations. As the championed prospect of former OKC exec and current Cats GM Rich Cho, “Biz” (founder of #biznation, brother to Billy) was immediately compared to another shot-swatter from the Congo, Serge Ibaka.

Three years later, Biyombo has certainly lived up to the comparison from a shot-blocking standpoint. His per 48 block numbers trail just behind Serge and he’s the only player in the league to average at least a swat per game while playing less than 15 minutes a night. It’s a near guarantee Biz would rank amongst the league’s Top 5 shot-blockers if he were playing starters minutes.

More impressive is Biyombo’s rebounding. In just 14.3 minutes per game, Biz is averaging 4.9 boards. That’s Kenneth Faried-level insane. Biyombo’s rebound rate of 19.3 blows away anything Ibaka’s ever posted. Again, if Biz were starting, he’d likely be averaging double figure rebounds and crack the league’s Top 10.

The problem, of course, is at the other end. While Serge has moved his gorgeous jumper further and further out to the three point line, Biz still has trouble finishing anything outside of a dunkthat is if he hasn’t fumbled the ball first. Despite extremely limited touches on offense, Biyombo’s turnover rate is twice as high as Ibaka’s and nearly three times the rate of Josh McRoberts – a guy who’s constantly handling the rock. When it comes to protecting the basketball, Biz is less Ibaka and more Kendrick Perkins.

Turnovers are a major no-no for coach Steve Clifford so it’s no wonder the staff was looking forward to Brendan Haywood’s eventual return. While Haywood isn’t nearly the shot swatter Biyombo is, he’s also not going to give the ball away immediately after touching it and offers just enough post scoring so that the team doesn’t have to entirely change the way it plays when Big Al goes to the bench. He’s also a better system defender than Biz – just check out last years defensive on/off court numbers – Mike Dunlap’s Bobcats gave up ten points per game less when Haywood subbed in for Biyombo.

The size of the gap is probably an aberration given the coaching misadventures and Biz’s youth but there is a very real story buried in those numbers. Clifford’s gushing comments about Haywood’s past exploits last summer weren’t lip service. Had he been healthy this season, it’s likely Brendan would’ve taken Biz’s spot in the rotation.

Points at a Premium

If you haven’t heard, the Bobcats have a hard time scoring. They’ve played better at that end since the All-Star break but against a good D, the late game offense generally devolves into a triple teamed Al Jefferson with Kemba Walker left to improvise. In order to stay in close games, Clifford relegates Biz’s fellow one-dimensional phenom, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, to the bench in favor of a good to league average three point shooter (Anthony Tolliver, Gary Neal or Chris Douglas-Roberts) just to keep the opposing wing defenders honest. MKG can at least catch a ball and do a few things with it once he has it – so if he’s sitting, you know Biyombo’s not sniffing crunch time.

All of which brings us to the premise of the post. Despite the strides Biyombo has made over the last few seasons, there’s essentially zero chance that he’s in their long term plans for the following three reasons:

1. Al Jefferson. Big Al’s the most talented player in franchise history and has at least 4-5 solid seasons left in him. Thus, the starting center spot is occupied for the foreseeable future and you can’t play Al & Biz together. Next.

2. MKG. Unless you like watching 3 on 5 hoops or want to lose a ton of games on purpose, you absolutely can’t play MKG and Biz together in the same lineup. Since Big Al’s return from an early season ankle injury, MKG and Biz have barely logged any minutes together. Clifford’s no fool. If the Cats keep either long term, it’ll be MKG.

3. Money. Two off-the-court comps for Biz: Derrick Williams and Evan Turner. As a high Lottery pick, Biz is due $3.8 million next season and after that, the team would have to extend a $5.2 million qualifying offer as the first step towards restricted free agency. So yeah, it’s not gonna happen. Just as Williams’ and Turner’s contracts spooked their respective teams into abandoning them this season, Biyombo’s looming free agency and disproportionate cap hold will likely jettison him to another team as soon as a decent opportunity presents itself.

Open for Biz-ness

So where exactly would that opportunity be? The team acquiring Biz would ideally be both offensively advanced and in desperate need of a rim protector who doesn’t have to score. Dallas, Portland and Golden State immediately come to mind as potential candidates. Unfortunately the Warriors have serious cap issues and another raw center (Festus Ezeli) returning from injury next season. The Blazers practically have a stable of developing young could-be bigs at the end of their bench. But Dallas…oh yes, Dallas. I think we might have a match!

Consider first Mark Cuban’s penchant for aggressively raw big men with over-sized contracts (Erik Dampier, Gana Diop, Haywood, Tyson Chandler). Now combine that with an offense practically tailored for Biz: the league’s all-time greatest stretch four and a couple of pick and roll instigators in the backcourt:

“Nah Biz, just set this pick and get the hell out of the way. We’ll take care of the rest.”

The Mavs are practically starting Old Biz now, with veteran Sam Dalembert occupying much the same role. Biyombo’s directive would be clear and simple: Get rebounds, dunk putbacks and block shots. Sure, he’ll still have to improve his hands and figure out how to not foul out of games before halftime but once he does, Big D could be Biz’s ticket to a big payday.

So what would Charlotte receive in a Biyombo to Dallas trade? The Mavs don’t have a first round pick to trade until after the Draft (when they’ll likely send it to OKC) – and no one in their right mind would pay that high a price anyways. What Dallas does have is Boston’s 2014 2nd Round pick. As of today, that’s the 34th overall selection in the Draft and with a deep class on the way, Charlotte could find an intriguing guy who slips (Isaiah Austin, James Young, Mitch McGary) or a Euro “draft & stash” prospect for the future. Best of all, the Hornets would save around $3.2 million in the deal – giving them the ability to find a two-way veteran backup on the cheap (ala Golden State with Jermaine O’Neal).

And really, from an “asset” perspective the trade would basically be a wash. Remember that Cho originally traded up from 19th in order to pick Biyombo at seven for basically no cost (unless you count an angry Stephen Jackson as an asset). Swapping a late first for the 34th pick in a deeper draft a few years later is hardly the worst thing that’s ever happened to the franchise – and the real mistake of course was passing on Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Nic Vucevic on Draft night back in 2011.

In the meantime, let us enjoy our remaining time with Biz, soaking in his incomparable likability, his endlessly entertaining tweets and his tenacious effort each and every time he steps on the court. After all…

ALL YOUR BLOCKS BELONG TO BIZ!

-ASChin

@BaselineBuzz

 

Officials Overturn Bobcats Win in Dallas

Standard

Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Dallas 12/12/09


It won’t show up in the standings but the Charlotte Bobcats won a big game against the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night in a valiant defensive effort as Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson all topped 20 points and held a solid Western Conference contender to just 39% shooting from the floor.  Final score 97-98.

AP recap here | Box score here

Where Have You Gone Tim Donaghy?

I’m not going to recount it here in detail but the officiating was worse than brutal tonight.  You could sense as much as the Bobcats headed into the 4th quarter up by eight, 70-62.  The Mavs were struggling, yes, but Mark Cuban was at his manipulative best by trotting out The The Protectors of Freedoms and Liberties on the sidelines complete with Gary “Lt. Dan” Sinise leading the charge.  What official in his right mind is gonna let this many war veterans go home unhappy with a loss to the Charlotte-freakin’-Bobcats?  Thus we had several magical off-the-ball fouls on the ‘Cats to get them into the penalty early in the quarter and combined with the team’s sloppy handling of the ball (18 turnovers to 13), allowed the Mavericks to come back and tie the game, send it into overtime and let Dirk go to work.

Bullets:

  • Gerald Wallace gave Nowitzki fits all night on defense until Rick Carlisle wised up and switched Dirk off of him.  Wallace’s 23pts and 16rbs gave him his fourteenth double-double of the season.  Outside of his 5 TOs (including a terrible one at the end of regulation), Wallace’s effort was incredible.  He played 51 minutes and never let up on either end of the court.
  • Raymond Felton continued his development into a Derek Fisher-type by hitting clutch basket after basket in the 2nd half + OT.  He nailed half of his shots going for 20 points and dropped in 8 dimes to boot.
  • For all of Dirk’s heroics at the end of the 4th and OT, he actually played a very poor game and was handled easily by Boris Diaw for most of the night as he finished a tawdry 14-34 from the field.  His pump/headfake from the perimeter is still unguardable though as I can only imagine trying to stop a deadly long-ball shooter who releases the ball a good 10 feet in the air.  Great job by Boris.
  • D.J. Augustin got a little playing time but didn’t do much with it.  In fifteen minutes, he made a three, dished out an assist and got totally schooled by J.J. Barea.  Barea, who is absurdly listed at 6 feet but is closer to 5’9″, actually blocked one of Augustin’s shot attempts.  Have you hit rock bottom yet, D.J.?
  • Stephen Jackson went on a personal 14-0 run for the Cats late in the 3rd/early in the 4th and finished with 28.  Jackson has been an offensive godsend to a Bobcats team that still needs at least one more creator on the roster.
  • Can’t believe how quickly this supposedly “old” Mavericks team still pushes the tempo.  Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion looked very quick and the Mavs didn’t slow down much with Terry or Dampier out there as well.  They look more like Nellie’s old Mavs than they have in quite a while.  That said, the Bobcats stellar D held them to just 98 points.

The Bobcats have the Knicks and Pacers up next and will need to take both of those games if they want to continue to float around the .500 mark.

Until next time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Better Than Making the Playoffs: Bob Johnson Wants to Sell the Bobcats

Standard

bobjohnson

First off, big props to Rick Bonnell for breaking today’s news.  Bonnell takes a lot of grief from “the internets” but when he’s on, he’s on.

BOB JOHNSON IS ATTEMPTING TO SELL THE BOBCATS!
If you are a ‘Cats fan, I can’t think of any better news.  Sure, there’s always a chance that this turns into an Atlanta Hawks-sized debacle and (considering the parties involved) the For Sale sign could seriously impede this summer’s personnel moves but c’mon!  It’s worth another season or two of mediocrity if only to rid ourselves of the man who single-handily did the impossible:

Bob Johnson made us miss George Shinn

For those of us who were around during the agonizing Hornets custody battle this is hard to believe.  Oh, but it’s true.  Damn true.  Who wouldn’t welcome Shinn and the Hornets back to Charlotte after “C-SET” Johnson’s 5+ years of ineptitude?  After JumperClassic-Gate V: The Final Frontier, I was ready to personally greet Ray Woolridge at Charlotte-Douglas in a Mike Fox Limo, holding a little hand-stiched sign that read “Mr. Woolridge.” <rant above©2009Tom Sorenson>

Seriously, this is really great news and to start off the festivities, let’s put in our wish list for the next owner (or ownership group).

I’ll start it off:

  • Needs to have money, lots of it.  Ideally billions.  And a pre-nup.
  • Needs to be likable, warm, funny and candid.
  • Needs to be a part of Charlotte, not apart from Charlotte.
  • Needs to understand the current direction of the NBA, new statistical analysis and hiring outside the box.  See Rockets, Houston.
  • Needs to be serious about reverse engineering the San Antonio small-market franchise model or needs to be wealthy enough (like Paul Allen) to spend his or her way out of mistakes (and when I say her, I mean Oprah).

That’s my 5.  Let’s hear it Bobcats fans, “Make Some Noise!”

-ASCHIN

UPDATE 05/25/09 | Hollinger on Bobcats Sale:

ESPN.com’s John Hollinger had some choice words on the Bobcats For Sale news in his Saturday Insider Gems:

The Bobcats are for sale, and that has to be good news for their fans. The odds for the team to relocate are minuscule, as Charlotte has a new arena and a solid market, not to mention the fairly harsh penalties for departing. But whoever takes over is almost certain to operate the team more competently than Robert Johnson did.

Johnson’s tenure was so bad that on Friday a Charlotte columnist was longing for the George Shinn days. Presumably the new guy won’t let Michael Jordan run the team from the 12th green or shut out the local TV audience, and he might even be encouraged to spend some money on players.

Become an ESPN.com Insider and read the rest of Hollinger’s post here.