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.”

Tags: Bismack Biyombo Jimmer Fredette Kenneth Faried Matt Howard

  • HankS

    There’s quite a bit of talk about Biyombo, but practically none about Jeremy Tyler. He’s 6’10, weighs 250, has a 7’5 wingspan–so practically the same numbers as Biyombo, and he’s quite an athlete, too. He might even be younger, and at this point he definitely knows a lot more basketball. Sure, he wouldn’t come without issues, but neither did Amare, remember? If we’re willing to roll the dice on Big Bis, shouldn’t we at least consider doing the same with Tyler? Why don’t the Suns invite him to work out?

  • Michael Schwartz

    Not sure why he has not worked out yet, largely that stuff is due to scheduling and the like but the Suns have seen him at least in Chicago and probably other times. He just wasn’t brought up for Treloar or Blanks to discuss in yesterday’s media availability.

    I don’t think he has quite the defensive ceiling as Biyombo but certainly an interesting prospect, another boom or bust type. I think 13 is too high to consider a risk like Tyler, but it’s a shame they traded away the Orlando pick because he could be worth the risk at that point in the draft. If he slips and the Suns go with a guard/wing with the first I wouldn’t mind seeing them trade into the very back of the first round or early second to pick up Tyler if the price isn’t prohibitive.

  • Steve

    If it were between Jimmer and Biyombo, I’d say Jimmer is clearly the better value pick, but it’s looking less and less like Jimmer will be available at 13 and more and more like Biyombo will be available. We have big needs in a lot of places, but I think it’s clear that it takes more than just defense OR shooting to win championships. You need both. Biyombo has elite athletic skills, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be an elite NBA defender. Jimmer almost certainly WILL be a good NBA shooter (possibly elite). He’s about as sure of a bet as you can get. Another week or so, and we’ll have some fun “what-if” scenarios to go through.

  • Marques

    If he’s available I say get him. If we get Bismack Biyombo then we can trade Robin Lopez for another first round pick and get either Marshon Brooks, Josh SHelby or Jordan Hamilton

  • Cam

    What is Pietrus’ trade value. An early 2nd or a future late 1st from a contender? Go Suns.

  • ChrisL

    Who would trade a first round pick for RoLo right now? I’d say his value is closer to nothing than a pick…

  • KLS

    Yeah, ChrisL – I’m not getting that either. RoLo is not a 1st round draft pick. Neither is Pietrus right now (mainly b/c every team knows he’s expendable to the Suns). But package them together and …? late 1st round pick?

    @Steve – I haven’t heard that Jimmer’s stock is going up. Everything I’m reading says the Jazz @ #12 is out biggest threat to take Jimmer before the Suns’ pick. I’ve read that Biyombo should be well gone by the Suns’ pick though …. so I don’t get the point of this blog.

  • Michael Schwartz

    Biyombo’s stock has gone down a bit after his subpar and much-attended workout in Italy, but I think it’s still anyone’s guess where he ends up. I’ve seen him down in the late teens to 20 in some mocks so I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion he will be well gone by the Suns’ pick although it is of course possible. Even a guy like Tristan Thompson is going 6 in some mocks and 13 to the Suns to others, so I think it’s certainly possible Biyombo will be there for the Suns.

    @Steve The question is if you want that sure thing or are OK with taking a gamble. I completely agree that Jimmer’s floor is a solid bench player who can shoot the lights out but at the same time I’d say Biyombo’s ceiling is certifiably higher. Will the Suns be in a gambling mood or take the safer pick?

  • Steve

    To the RoLo comments: I’m not going to argue with you about how good he is. We all know he sucks. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to be willing to throw a first-rounder at us for him. Jermaine O’Neal had a job last season, I’m sure people can find room for RoLo. 7-footers are not in abundance in this league right now, and RoLo has at least shown he can be very competent in flashes.

    As for Jimmer’s stock going up, I’ve heard it on every single report I have read over the past week. He has been killing it in workouts, and some people have him going as high as 6. As Michael pointed out, Jimmer’s assumed floor is acceptable, and he’s pretty much as close to a sure thing in this draft as there is (doesn’t mean he will be the best, just maybe the most sure thing). Now, no one really knows where he will go until draft night, but given his undeniable shooting and his status, I really won’t be surprised if he’s taken in the top 10. Right now, I would actually bet on it.

    @Michael- I hope they gamble. One thing is for sure, though. I’m glad I’m not in their shoes right now. This is an extremely important draft for our future. We really can’t afford to miss on this one.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @ Steve I disagree about this being an important draft.

    Not that I’m drinking the kool-aid, but most people are look at this draft as a weaker one. Almost everybody is saying the same thing as far as this draft being low on “sure-fire potential superstars.”

    In that regard, I can’t say this is an important draft in relation to the future of the franchise, especially with only one pick at the moment, and that pick is sitting at 13.

    Secondly, (I know I keep saying it), but with the people upstairs sticking by the Nashty one, I can’t believe that any one rookie coming out will be what this team needs in terms of the impact-type player required to help Nash elevate the team back into title contention.

    *** Unless his name is Jor- [I know you already know, D.J.H.P. Foundation] ***

    Anyway, whether or not “Sabby” admit it, we’re in a rebuilding phase until further notice, (or until we execute some disgustingly unforeseen trades to help Nash and our core), and as long as that’s the status of the team then I feel like we should draft for Need + future direction in terms of team philosophy.

    Before VOTS began running these player profiles for us, (thank you!), I dropped 4 names on your head(s).

    Jordan, Jimmer, Alec, Tristan – in that order for various reasons.

    I’m sticking to that, but if those 4 guys are gone at 13, then I’m down with “BIS BOY!!!” if a couple questions can be answered by our VOTS congressmen.

    We’re talking about high risk versus high reward in this draft scenario, but a couple of things are being left out.

    First: How the hell does he fit in a Nash-driven system? Excluding trades and including Bis Boy!!!! as the guy we drafted, we can assume the starting lineup would look something like this.

    Nash + Dudley + Hill / JChil + Bis Boy + Gortat If he starts, and…

    Z Dow + ??? (I really don’t know) + JChil + Bis Boy + RoLo if he’s on the bench mob. Frye floats accordingly obviously.

    So as a starter, dude has NO SHOT. Nothing going to the hole. No real threat to score, so he can’t be a viable PnR partner all of the time because they’ll just trap Nash hard.
    You’re left with Gortat, Dudley, Chil or HIll. people would NEVER help off of JMZ and Frye is on the bench. Is there enough shooting to make people pay? he seems to get in the way as a starter even with his killer defense.

    Off the bench, in that scenario, I’m looking for scoring.

    … **45 minutes later** …

    I’m still looking for scoring. Granted, that second unit is VICIOUS defensively, on paper at least, but if they come in down say, 6, can they make that up?

    If we’re going in a different direction where defense is more important, then he fits nicely for the future but again, he doesn’t help at all in the here and now does he? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be gearing towards? Right now to try to compliment Nash?

    The only way I see Bis Boy being picked if he’s there is if the Suns have a plan to bring in some big time players at the 2 and / or 4 and are prepping the bench mob through the draft.

    If JMZ and Frye are coming off the bench with Bis Boy, Z Dow and JChil I am RIGHT THERE. That is lock-down defense with 2 shooters and potential miss matches all over the place.

    But then, who starts? Where is RoLo? Who got traded to bring back a beast? Bis Boy seems to bring more questions than answers for our Suns, in my opinion anyway.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    ** are looking – wow. and I read that 3 times before I hit submit.

  • KLS

    Thanks guys for the draft stick updates on Jimmer and “Bis Boy.”

    @Michael – It may be that the Suns need to obtain a late 1st/early 2nd round pick to pick up the depth they need at both guard and PF. What is the likelihood of a trade happening for this pick? Who would be involved (player-wise and team-wise)?

  • Michael Schwartz

    @Rich I don’t think Bis Boy would be a starter to begin his career. The guy is 18 years old (theoretically) with such a limited offensive game that I would bet he starts more games for Iowa than the Suns. He would be a guy you develop, hope he adds a jump shot and really learns how to play the game while morphing into a total beast on defense. Maybe he can give you 10-15 Lou-like energy minutes a game off the bench, but you don’t draft Bis for 2011-12. If your goal is to win now with Nash, you have to go with a more seasoned college player.

    The Suns do traditionally like having the post/spacer combo with their bigs so a Bis/Gortat front line would mess with that and frankly wouldn’t be great for a Nash team that’s so predicated on spacing. You make this pick if you want to turn into a quality defensive unit in the future with Gortat/Bis/Dudley/Childress/Point Guard Acquisition. Teams basically won’t have to guard Bis except at the rim at the start of his career so having him out there would muck things up for Nash. The argument for drafting Bis is that his ceiling is higher than many of the guys likely to be available in this range.

    @KLS I would say such a trade is fairly doubtful but possible. Not sure what teams are dangling such a pick but I’m sure the Pietrus/Lopez combo we’ve all been talking about would be the main bait for a pick like that.