2) Bismack Biyombo
“Wait just a minute,” I hear you saying. “Biyombo is the best backup big on the roster. So why would he be put on the pine?”
Biyombo’s size will be helpful against certain opponents (like Nikola Jokic if the Suns meet the Nuggets in Round 2). But I think the Suns will flirt with small-ball lineups a lot this postseason, particularly in the first round against the Clippers, and that would leave Biyombo on the outside looking in.
The Clippers’ Ty Lue has shown a willingness to play unconventional lineups for years, and he’ll undoubtedly experiment with smaller lineups surrounding Russ Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard with three shooters. In those minutes, even Ayton could struggle. Biyombo will have a very short leash.
This isn’t about Biyombo as a player; he’s been a good backup center during his time in Phoenix. But, come playoff time, the value of a backup center as a role is questionable.
Bismack has been a superlative shot-blocker this season, particularly down the stretch. However, the Clippers are a jump-shooting team (21st in rim-attempt frequency), and Biyombo is not at his best chasing quicker players on the perimeter.
Kevin Durant, Ish Wainwright, and even TJ Warren may get chances at the center spot whenever the Clippers go small. All three offer at least a little size and spacing without incurring a quickness deficit.
The NBA regular season is about sharpening strengths; the playoffs are about mitigating weaknesses. A classic rim-running center, Biyombo’s worth fluctuates between essential and unusable depending on the matchups. Bismack will have his moments in these playoffs… but he won’t have many in the first round.