With a rare early afternoon game scheduled between the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons today, each team’s head coach spoke with the media at the same time they would normally be drinking their morning coffees.
However, with everyone playing early bird, the press conferences felt more like morning reflections.
Many use the morning as a way to prepare themselves to face each day’s new challenges, to show appreciation for their current situation, and to reflect on the past. That’s exactly what Pistons coach Dwane Casey did when he addressed reporters before tipoff at Little Caesars Arena.
Casey first discussed going up against a tough Suns team with the best overall record in the NBA, entering the game at 32-9. He then showed his appreciation for his current players Kelly Olynyk, Trey Lyles, and Hamidou Diallo, who he said have all played out of position at different times throughout the season, but is thankful for their willingness to be versatile.
Then came the reflection. After pausing for a moment, Casey realized a reunion was on the horizon between him and Bismack Biyombo, a former Raptors player of Casey’s during the 2015-16 NBA season who now played for the opposing Suns.
When asked about what Biyombo can bring to a team possessing championship-level aspirations such as the Suns, without hesitation, the first characteristic Casey spoke on was “toughness.”
“[Bismack] is going to bring toughness each and every night,” said Casey. “He’s one of the best screeners I’ve ever coached as far as putting his body on people. He’s one of those guys where it doesn’t matter whether you’re going to try and come in and dunk on him or not, he’s going to be there to block the shot. A lot of guys get squeamish to try and go block a shot. Bismack will be there.”
All of those attributes represent why the Suns signed Biyombo for the remainder of the season earlier this week after his original 10-day hardship deal expired. It’s why Chris Paul described him as a “consummate pro” and a “perfect fit for the Suns’ culture.”
That compatibility and toughness make Biyombo an ideal addition specifically to a team like the Suns when you acknowledge their playoff likelihood. Coach Casey reiterated this when speaking on Biyombo’s battle tested skills in postseason play, mentioning how he formerly guarded LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Biyombo and the Raptors lost to James’s Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 during that series, but his play during the run earned him a nice payday with the Orlando Magic the following summer, signing a four-year, $72 million contract.
Over five games with Phoenix so far, Biyombo finds himself averaging 6.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game with 15.8 minutes of run time each night. Despite his eventful past with Casey, he remains just 29-years-old and with a great deal still to prove, so expect him to keep finding ways to contribute with Suns in all facets of the game.