What Happened to Bismack Biyombo and the Phoenix Suns?

Phoenix Suns, Bismack Biyombo. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Bismack Biyombo. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

After keeping the Phoenix Suns afloat for roughly two weeks despite injuries to some of their finest players, Arizona basketball fans were ready to throw a parade for Bismack Biyombo alone earlier this year.

Originally acquired via a 10-day, hardship deal, expectations for Biyombo were minimal upon his arrival. But with his stellar game after game, he quickly buried any doubt pertaining to his basketball abilities and replaced it with buzz and enthusiasm.

Praise for the mid-season signee reached its peak roughly three weeks ago when the Suns battled the Indiana Pacers. With 29 minutes of run, Biyombo came through with 21 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, two blocks, and a steal.

For the month of January, Biyombo averaged a solid 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game—all of which were figures significantly above his career numbers.

However, it was not just the numbers that Biyombo put up each night, but the way in which he put them up that made him a fan favorite and steady contributor.

Working as a seamless fit beside Chris Paul in the pick-and-roll game, Biyombo frequently found himself flying freely toward the rim for crowd-detonating slam dunks. He also came through with jump out of your seat rejections night in and night out, showing off his maintained athleticism still at just 29-years-old .

Make no mistake about it, few players and their teams rode into February in better shape than Biyombo and the Suns. Even with Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee returning to play, Biyombo kept finding minutes, and Phoenix kept winning—preserving their first place hold on the West.

But then, things suddenly changed for Biyombo, stopping and switching direction faster than MIkal Bridges on a steal turned dunk. As the calendar flipped, so did Monty Williams’s rotations, as Biyombo has not played any minutes in three out of Phoenix’s eight games this month.

In the games he has played, only once has Biyombo attained double digit minutes either, fielding just over 10 in Phoenix’s blowout affair vs the Milwaukee Bucks. He just looks like a shelved player right now, a fate which he does not deserve.

With Ayton and McGee both struggling against the Los Angeles Clippers, last night would have been the perfect time to throw some minutes at Biyombo, but alas, Monty Williams never gave him the nod.

From an efficiency standpoint, Ayton had his worst game of the season last night. He shot just 6-16 from the field, putting up his lowest field goal percentage in a game all year. McGee also looked off, often losing his grip on the ball around the rim and turning it over twice in just 17 minutes of run.

If there were ever a time for the Suns to unleash Biyombo, it was last night. Although Ayton finished off the game with a nice lob finish to help Phoenix pull out the victory, the nonexistent minutes for Biyombo during the contest certainly feels like a rare mistake on the part of Williams.

Williams’s reasons for keeping Biyombo handcuffed to the bench will likely remain unknown. At the end of the day, him sitting out games is not that big a deal either, especially when you consider the chemistry on this Suns team and their continued winning habits.

But regardless, Williams needs to recognize when his guys might not have it one night or another from here on out and act accordingly. The Suns are 17-0 when Biyombo plays, and when you have two centers looking out of sync, a third stringer like him is a true luxury which Phoenix would be ignorant to keep on the bench.

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With respect to the grit and underrated talent still on the Clippers, Phoenix had no business letting them hang around last night. Given how well he has played on the Suns this year, Biyombo might have been the right answer at center in that game, and might be in future on a few occasions as well.