Tag: Detroit Pistons

Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo, after losing starting job and nearly half his minutes, happily helping Hornets


BOSTON – If you want to get Bismack Biyombo to light up, talk to him about going from a starter in 2012-13 to a reserve with his playing time nearly halved in 2013-14.

“It’s actually one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Biyombo said.

Biyombo watched the game from a different perspective. He learned to appreciate just being in the NBA. And he read more.

One of the books he picked up, on a recommendation from Ronny Turiaf, was “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.” Biyombo said a key theme was exposing a cycle of passive learning.

“Kids growing up the way they grow up, it’s just the same thing over and over. There’s no changes,” Biyombo said. “They don’t let you make mistakes in life, to find out yourself what life is about. They tell you to listen to old people, because they know better than you, but you don’t know any better. You never learn to know better.

“As we grow up, we go to school. They tell us this is a pen, and you know it’s a pen. But nobody lets you find out that it is a pen. Nobody lets you find out that a cell phone is a cell phone. They’ve got to tell you this is a cell phone. So, it’s over and over, generation after generation.”

After generations of basketball thinkers viewing the game similarly, we’re in a new era of analysis with advanced stats and easily accessible video. The NBA is more curious than ever.

Biyombo could benefit more than most.

At face value, Biyombo – the No. 7 pick in the 2011 draft – is a bust. A good indicator is the amount of faith his own team has in him, and Charlotte gave Biyombo just 13.9 minutes per game last season and 16.3 so far this season, his fourth. Most players drafted so high get every opportunity to succeed and develop, but Biyombo has not engendered more playing time.

Since the NBA instituted rookie-scale contracts, the only players drafted so highly to play fewer than 20 minutes per game in both their third and fourth seasons (or what would have been if not dropped sooner) of their rookie deals were: Jan Vesely, Ekpe Udoh, Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Greg Oden, Adam Morrison, Shelden Williams, Jay Williams, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Dajuan Wagner, DerMarr Johnson, Chris Mihm and Robert Traylor. Whether due to poor play, injury or both, players in this situation rarely go onto lengthy NBA careers.

Can Biyombo buck the trend?

This is where the NBA’s evolving methods of analysis come in.

Biyombo leads the Hornets – a 15-24 team that has been outscored by 115 points this season – with a plus-minus of +52.


Before Charlotte beat the Knicks by 28 in its last game – pushing its win streak to five games, all with Biyombo starting for an injured Al Jefferson – Biyombo was the team’s only rotation player with a positive plus-minus.

“He’s very bright,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “The reason why his plus-minus is so good is he does what we do. He knows what’s supposed to happen, and he actually helps other guys play, too.”

Biyombo strengths and weaknesses each fall on extreme ends of the spectrum. Of the 251 players who have played as much as him this season, Biyombo ranks:

  • 2nd in block percentage (behind Rudy Gobert)
  • 7th in rebounding percentage (behind Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler, Omer Asik, DeMarcus Cousins and Zach Randolph)
  • 11th in field-goal percentage (behind Brandan Wright, DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler, Rudy Gobert, Ed Davis, James Johnson, Tyler Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Dwight Howard and Amir Johnson)
  • 240th in free-throw percentage (ahead of Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Andre Roberson, Elfrid Payton, Nerlens Noel, Mason Plumlee, Dwight Howard, Miles Plumlee and Larry Sanders)
  • 246th in usage percentage (ahead of Andre Roberson,Miles Plumlee,DeAndre Jordan,Joe Ingles andJason Thompson)
  • 236th in turnover percentage (ahead of Kendrick Perkins, Shabazz Napier, Rajon Rondo, Samuel Dalembert, Andrew Bogut, Shaun Livingston, Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton, Steve Blake,  Joe Ingles, Michael Carter-Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni and Evan Turner)
  • 251st in assist percentage

Essentially, Biyombo makes the most of his 7-foot-6 wingspan and impressive athleticism where he can. Anything that involves him skillfully using hands becomes more troublesome.

He does little things – setting good screens and rotating properly defensively are two Clifford pointed out – that don’t show up in the box score. When I watched him play, I noticed him frequently moving back and forth from one side of the paint to the other to avoid clogging any driving lanes. That energy helps, considering Biyombo – who has never made a shot beyond 17 feet in his career – can’t space the floor traditionally. I’m not saying Biyombo’s plus-minus makes him Charlotte’s best player or even good, but it’s a number that should encourage closer inspection of his game.

Perhaps, Biyombo is bound to fill a limited role the rest of his career. The right team could certainly put him in position to succeed with these skills.

But don’t completely discount the possibility of Biyombo developing into a more well-rounded player.

He’s still just 22, the second-youngest player in his draft class (behind only No. 46 pick Davis Bertans, who has yet to play in the NBA and whose rights are held by the Spurs). In fact, Biyombo is younger than a third of the players selected in the most recent draft, including first rounders Doug McDermott, Adreian Payne, Mitch McGary, Shabazz Napier, Bogdan Bogdanovic, C.J. Wilcox and Josh Huestis.

Heck, it’s even possible Biyombo tries to make that next step in Charlotte. But it seems unlikely with Jefferson around. Neither shoot well enough to space the floor, and they’ve yet to share the court since Jefferson joined the team.

The Hornets can extend Biyombo a qualifying offer this summer to make him a free agent. That’ll cost them $4,045,894 – or, if Biyombo somehow plays 2,000 minutes or starts 41 times this season, $5,194,227. Really, Biyombo continuing to play such a limited role – he’ll surely return to the bench once Jefferson gets healthy – might help him next offseason. The qualifying offer, which Charlotte is more likely to extend if it’s lower, wouldn’t be a bad salary for the big man.

Until then, he seems happy in his current situation.

Another book Biyombo read last season was “La Buena Suerte.” A theme of that one, written in Spanish (Biyombo speaks five languages), as described by Biyombo:

“Make your own luck,” Biyombo said. “Go after what you want. Know what you want, and do what you really want. And obviously, when you’re finished, whatever you’ve done, don’t have any regrets.”

Biyombo said he wants to play basketball as long as he can and win an NBA title. How long will he last in the league? Will he help a contender?

It really depends what teams see for themselves when they look at Biyombo.

Brandon Jennings fined for obscene gesture during Pistons-Raptors game

Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors

Brandon Jennings scorched the Raptors for 34 points, 10 assists and the game-clinching steal in Detroit’s 114-111 win Monday.

The Pistons point guard also apparently unleashed an over-the-line celebration on Toronto.

NBA release:

Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings has been fined $15,000 for making an obscene gesture during the Pistons’ 114-111 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday, Jan. 12, at Air Canada Centre, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

Jennings’ actions occurred with 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter of the game.

Jennings made a 3-pointer with 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, but neither the Pistons’ nor Raptors’ telecasts showed an obscene gesture to go with it.

On Toronto’s version, you can see that Jennings’ hands are below his waste, and his arms are moving slightly. Sam Cassell dance? Kevin Martin and Jameer Nelson each got fined $15,000 for it, so the price is right.

If that’s why Jennings got fined, the gesture wasn’t too pronounced. Who at the league office spends his or her time meticulously monitoring for players slightly moving their hands near their groins?

Kyle Lowry with half-court alley-oop pass to Terrence Ross (VIDEO)

Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry threw the pass and even he seemed a little surprised this play worked.

But Terrence Ross climbed the ladder on an impressive play that was part of Toronto’s strong play early. Their problem was that Brandon Jennings outplayed Lowry and the Pistons owned the second half on the way to a 114-111 Detroit win.

The Raptors have now dropped five of their last six.

Three Things We Learned in the NBA Monday: Start thinking of Detroit as a playoff team

Stan Van Gundy

Pay attention and every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from a light Monday night in the association. Here’s what you missed while booking your vacation to Philadelphia….

The Pistons could make the playoffs. Don’t laugh, we’re serious. With the Nets loss and the Pistons win over the Raptors on Monday Detroit is now just two games out of the eight seed in the East. They have gone 9-2 in their last 11 and in the East that gets you in the playoff mix. Monday’s win was an example of what the Pistons are doing right — in the first half they struggled and had no good answer for Jonas Valanciunas (he finished the night with 31 points and 12 rebounds). But in the second half the Pistons saw Brandon Jennings get hot when they moved the offense to more side pick-and-rolls, and the Raptors didn’t have an adjustment that worked. Jennings finished with 34 points. If the Pistons make the playoffs, as Zito Madu suggests at SB Nation, we should start calling giving up something bad for you “waiving the Josh Smith.” As in “I used to smoke a pack a day but then I waived Josh Smith and breathe much better now.”

Kevin Garnett is going to get be suspended for the Nets game Wednesday vs. Memphis. Boy, that escalated quickly. Kevin Garnett plays an emotional game, and through all the years of unending trash talk and success he has been known to let his emotions get the best of him now and again. Usually against guys about half his size, but tonight Dwight Howard got under his skin somehow. So KG head butted Howard. He’s going to get suspended for that. Howard may get a fine for that slap (not even a punch really) but KG will get the big penalty here. As he should.

Tom Thibodeau is fed up with how the Bulls are playing defense. The Bulls have been pretty good defensively this season — 10th in the NBA allowing 101.7 points per 100 possessions — but that is not exactly the lock down Bulls defense we know. However, in the last five games the Bulls are giving up 106.7 per 100, which is 25th in the NBA. You can imagine how well that sits with the Zen-like Tom Thibodeau. He ripped his team after the game Monday, saying this to CSNChicago.com:

“We’ve got to decide what we’re going to be. If we’re just going to come in and try to outscore people we’re not going anywhere. I know that doesn’t work,” a displeased Thibodeau said after the game. “We’re going to have to bring a lot more intensity, and the only way you bring more intensity is by working a lot harder. It’s really that simple.”

We’ll see if Thibodeau’s message gets through.

Report: Lakers have called Pistons about Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings

Aaron Brooks, Brandon Jennings, Timofey Mozgov, Greg Monroe

The Lakers are not content to just play out their worst season since moving to Los Angeles. (Yes, even worse than last year.)

They’re going to talk trade – and make sure you know they’re talking trade.

There was the pursuit of Rajon Rondo, an offer just good enough to look serious but clearly short of the Mavericks’ package. It never made sense for the Lakers to trade for Rondo, because they could just chase him in free agency after this lost season, but it seems they want their fans to know they’re trying.

They’re still trying to tell their fans they’re trying.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Dion Waiters already got traded to the Thunder, so that’s probably a no-go now.

It’d make no sense for the Lakers to trade for Greg Monroe. They wouldn’t get his Bird rights, so why not just sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer? The Lakers could offer him the same contract whether or not they deal for him this season. There are only two rationales for making a Monroe trade now:

1. The Lakers want to use him this season to win. That’d upset Magic Johnson – and common sense, no matter what Jeanie Buss says. The Lakers’ best course is to tank enough to keep the top-five protected pick they owe the Suns, hope they strike gold in free agency and then ideally convey Phoenix a much lower pick in 2016.

2. The Lakers want to use the rest of the season to sell Monroe on Los Angeles. Even if adding to the roster sooner won’t change the contract they can offer him in the summer, they could have an opportunity to impress Monroe before any other suitors. However, given the way the Lakers’ season is going, they should probably want Monroe to see as little as possible in advance.

It makes a little more sense, emphasis on little, for the Lakers to trade for Jennings, who’s under contract for next season. He has has been instrumental in the Pistons post-Josh Smith turnaround. If Detroit deals Jennings, it’d clearly be taking a step back. Jennings is the best point guard on either the Pistons or Lakers.

Stan Van Gundy initially talked of a long-term view before his team won seven straight immediately after dropping Smith. That unexpected success has changed the team’s direction, but it doesn’t preclude the Pistons from selling off their parts. It’s not as if they’re anywhere near a playoff lock.

That said, why would the Lakers want Jennings now? Anything he provides this season is for naught, and though he’s under contract for an affordable $8,344,497 next season, the Lakers play in a market where they can target bigger free agents. Jennings would just cut into the Lakers’ cap space.

Essentially, there’s little reason Jennings should have more value to the Lakers than he does to the Pistons. But if the Lakers have an unreasonably high opinion of Jennings, the Pistons should at least listen.