The Phoenix Suns may have started this season at a rocky 3-4, but they are about to get two of their top three players back from injury in the form of Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The latter going to help this team massively having not played in the regular season yet.
With Kevin Durant continuing to be the All-World talent that we’ve come to expect, the only other area of concern right now for the organization is at the center position. Big man Jusuf Nurkic might have had some nice moments so far – and he has remained healthy to this point – but he still feels like the most shaky player on the Suns’ starting five if they want to win a championship.
A former and largely forgotten about Suns big man recently signed on to play with the Memphis Grizzlies, and has already recorded a start for the team.
That player would be Bismack Biyombo, the 31-year-old who spent two seasons with the Suns. He also appeared in 17 postseason games, which depending on your views on the hard screen setting big, may partially explain why the franchise was never able to get over the hump.
On Sunday night Biyombo was a late addition to start for the Grizzlies against the Portland Trail Blazers, and in 26 minutes in a 112-100 win (the first of the season for the team), he had eight points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. A considerable return for a player who was on the scrapheap not so long ago.
Interestingly, Biyombo matched up well and had a better statistical performance than Deandre Ayton (six points, 11 rebounds), the former first overall pick by the Suns. It would be a stretch to say that The Valley is missing the one-dimensional, but also at times effective, talents of Biyombo.
After all, it was former player Chris Paul who on any given night helped make Biyombo look like the kind of big who could thrive on a contender. Scoring in a myriad of ways was never in Biyombo’s wheelhouse, but he was always a willing screen and roll player who protected the paint.
The Suns may have started the season a respectable 10th in defensive rating (109.6), but the depth behind Nurkic is questionable. Drew Eubanks has been exactly what a backup big should be for the Suns, but Bol Bol can’t defend and Chimezie Metu has appeared in three games and averaged just as many minutes per contest.
Biyombo probably isn’t the answer, and really if the Suns should look longingly at any recent former big man, it is Jock Landale. The Australian a revelation during the playoffs last year, although he has struggled to have an impact with the Houston Rockets so far this season.
Biyombo then is a feel-good story for carving out another chance in the league for himself with a struggles Grizzlies group that is 1-6. Right now they need help from any place they can get it, and that is the sort of environment the hard-working Biyombo can thrive in spot minutes. To have excelled in a starting role already? That may just have added some time to his career in the league.
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