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Breaking It Down

Breaking It Down: Bismack Biyombo’s Benevolent Defensive Impact

Ed’s Note: The Raptors Weekly podcast for this week will be airing on Tuesday on account of Thanksgiving.

Bismack Biyombo, despite not doing anything spectacular, has been an early success this preseason. Never one to light up the box score, Biyombo has made his mark by adding a subtle spine to the Raptors defense. He’s making plays that don’t show up in the box score and even the analytics movement which keeps track of how much distance a player travels, to how many cheeseburgers he eats, can’t quite quantify Biyombo’s contributions. Here are three plays that won’t show up in the box score.

Play 1: Stay home, stop drive, box out

On this end-of-quarter play, Biyombo does three things very well:

  1. He has the discipline to stay home when his man goes out to set the screen for Lou Williams. The Lakers want Biyombo to come out and expose the paint so that Williams has space to drive. Biyombo staying home eliminates that possibility.
  2. When Williams drive, Biymobo steps up to stop Williams in his tracks, forcing a pass with time running out.
  3. After challenging Williams, he goes back to the guy he’s supposed to be guarding and boxes him out, ensuring he doesn’t get the offensive rebound.

None of these plays show up in the box score, yet are the main reason this possession didn’t result in points for the Lakers.

Play 2: Seal baseline, challenge drive


A lot of players often just worry about their check on defense, and think that if their man didn’t score, they played good defense. Wrong. Here’s another example of Biyombo helping out his teammates responsibly. On this play he:

  1. Helps Cory Joseph by sealing the baseline by recognizing an opportunity to trap a player. It would be very easy for him to just stay home and nobody would’ve complained, but he made the extra effort towards making a play.
  2. He recovers well to get back to his man after the ball is kicked out of the baseline trap, and contests the oncoming drive. The pass is made and Scola is late rotating and commits the foul. For Biyombo’s part, though, full marks.

Play 3: Protecting the rim


Here’s Biyombo helping out his teammates again. Scola goes for the steal, overreaches, and is well out of position. Randle, being the smart player he is, takes immediate advantage and attacks the rim. Biyombo’s following this action and steps in to contest the shot, forcing the miss.

The defensive utility man that Biyombo is proving out to be has already put him well ahead of the man he replaced, Tyler Hansbrough, at least on defense.  On offense, however, you’ll never see me creating a post like this featuring his scoring prowess, because that would be classified as satire.

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