Bismack Biyombo: A gamble that could pay off

Bismack Biyombo (left) is very much a boom or bust prospect. (AP Photo)

Bismack Biyombo (left) is very much a boom or bust prospect. (AP Photo)

PHOENIX — It’s hard to know quite what the team drafting Bismack Biyombo will be getting.

Sure, we know Biyombo is a 6-foot-9 freak athlete with a 7-7 wingspan and crazy hops, but we don’t know if he’s the next Serge Ibaka or the next Saer Sene.

For all the hours upon hours of scouting that teams put into the draft, with Biyombo you are basically buying a lottery ticket and praying you just selected the next Ben Wallace.

At Biyombo’s recent workout in Italy for more than 100 NBA talent evaluators, including one representing the Suns, Biyombo failed to impress, with one GM telling ESPN’s Chad Ford in an extensive feature on Biyombo’s “meteoric rise” that he played “one-on-none … and he lost.”

But this workout only further proved that Biyombo’s offensive game is non-existent. Most scouts already knew that.

They also understand the kind of impact Biyombo can make on the defensive end after his triple-double featuring 10 blocks in the Nike Hoop Summit this April in Portland in which Biyombo stole the show against a team composed of many 2012 lottery picks.

Suns director of player personnel John Treloar attended the Hoop Summit and got enough of a taste of Biyombo’s potential to be intrigued.

“He’s a very raw talent, tremendous weakside shot blocker, good defender,” Treloar said Tuesday. “Again, he’s got a ways to go, and offensively he’s just not there yet as far as being able to help you on that end of the floor, but he’s a talent.

“Against the top high school guys that will be going into the draft a year from now he had a triple-double and he absolutely held his own in Portland when I saw him, so he’s got a great upside, no doubt.”

Although the Suns aren’t often mentioned in connection with Biyombo, last week one of their local scouts joined international scout Kornel David to put Biyombo through a private workout set up by the Suns in Spain, where he currently plays professionally.

The Suns’ representatives controlled the drills in the workout, which Treloar said went “great,” and then shared a meal with the Congolese big man to get to know him better.

Whether the Suns are just doing their due diligence or have legitimate interest is as up in the air as Biyombo’s true age (he claims to be 18), but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Suns take a chance on him.

In a draft with so few impact players, particularly all the way down at No. 13, picking Biyombo would mean rolling the dice and likely either getting a standout player or a major bust.

Like Schmitz wrote last week, a guy like Markieff Morris is very likely to be a solid pro but just as unlikely to ever be a star. With Biyombo on the other hand, you’re dealing with boom or bust.

For a guy to possess such superior athletic gifts, earn playing time in Spain’s top league (the ACB) at a young age and dominate the best American high schoolers in a loaded class in a showcase event shows just how great his potential is.

Biyombo –who is in play anywhere between Nos. 6 and 20 — is about as far as possible from the traditional Phoenix Suns floor spacing big man, but his defensive prowess presents a new element as well. I could see a future Suns lineup of Gortat-Biyombo-Childress-Dudley-Point Guard of the Future becoming a formidable defensive unit, and Channing Frye would still be around to provide the floor-spacing change of pace.

Ford finished his Biyombo profile by quoting an anonymous GM as saying, “He can play in the NBA right now. If you understand what he is and what he isn’t, and you’re OK with that, then I think he’s a very safe pick. Defense helps win championships. Ben Wallace and Tyson Chandler don’t score, but they help their teams in so many ways. If you value defense, length and drive, I think it’s hard not to like him. Maybe love him.”

In a draft unlikely to yield many impact players, the Suns could do far worse than betting on Biyombo’s potential.

To get a better handle on Biyombo’s strengths, check out his highlights from the Nike Hoop Summit:


Jimmer’s stellar workout

On the other side of the spectrum, most teams know what they are going to get with shooting extraordinaire Jimmer Fredette, at least offensively.

Jimmer’s stroke was on display at the US Airways Center practice court on Monday as the Suns took a long look at a player who could become their point guard of the future.

“Jimmer was great. He came in and he’s not afraid of dodging guys in the workouts,” said Treloar, in reference to Kemba Walker backing out of the session. “Some guys, the agents won’t let you bring them in because they don’t want you to work them out against some specific player. Jimmer is willing to work out against anybody. He handled himself like we expected him to.”

The big question with Jimmer is his defense, but Treloar expects him to be fine in halfcourt situations due to his quickness and strength although he may struggle to defend players in the open court.

To Suns general manager Lance Blanks, Jimmer “checks all the positive boxes as an NBA point guard,” so “if he’s there it would be a tough decision because he’s a very good player.”

Faried headlines Tuesday’s session

Kenneth Faried, the elite rebounder from Morehead State, showed off his skills for the Suns’ staff on Tuesday as the only player in consideration for the No. 13 pick in the workout.

Faried averaged 14.5 rebounds a game last season after corralling 13 per contest his previous two years, and Treloar is fairly certain that skill will translate to the NBA game due to “his quickness and his ability to get to the second and third jump.”

Generally speaking, players who can rebound in college often find success on the boards in the pros (and vice versa, as we learned from Robin Lopez).

“Of all the guys I’ve seen out there he’s the first guy since Rodman retired I’ve seen that rebounds the ball like that,” Treloar said. “Obviously he played at a smaller school so you don’t know how he’d do against the higher level competition, but the guy has a knack for rebounding. He gets them.”

Tuesday’s workout also included Butler hero Matt Howard, who not surprisingly was still working out while the rest of the players were nowhere to be seen. If he doesn’t get drafted I would love to see the Suns scoop him up as an undrafted free agent due to his heart, hustle and shooting stroke for a (undersized) big man.

And 1

The Suns would still like to bring in guards Alec Burks and Josh Selby for workouts. …  More Treloar: “I don’t think you’re going to draft a guy in this year’s draft that you will say is going to be a go-to guy coming right out of college. Most of those guys who had that ability have gone back to school for another year.”

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Tags: Bismack Biyombo Jimmer Fredette Kenneth Faried Matt Howard

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