Bismack Biyombo

Leading up to Draft Night on June 23, we’re going to profile the eight prospects that we feel are most likely to be on the Raptors’ radar for the fifth overall pick. Going alphabetically, Bismack Biyombo is up first.

Height: 6’9″
Weight: 240 lbs.
Date of Birth: August 28, 1992
Likely NBA Position: PF/C

In a draft class filled with question marks, Bismack Biyombo might be the biggest enigma of all. A relative unknown before he played for the World Select Team at the Nike Hoop Summit in April, Biyombo announced his arrival as a legitimate NBA prospect by recording the first triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks) in Hoop Summit history and breaking Kevin Garnett’s Hoop Summit record for blocks.

Biyombo’s physical attributes are beyond impressive. He carries a muscular 240 pounds on his six-foot-nine frame and his seven-foot-seven wingspan defines “freakish”. With that length, it’s worth considering whether or not he can play center in the NBA — after all, you don’t block shots with your head.

There’s no question that Biyombo has one of the rawest skillsets among the likely lottery picks in this year’s draft, but the bigger concern might be the legitimacy of his Congolese birth certificate. He was supposedly born in 1992, but some scouts suspect that he might actually be in his 20s. He certainly doesn’t look like a teenager, but that doesn’t mean much considering the recent examples of LeBron James’ and Greg Oden’s appearances as 18-year-olds.

Is Bismack Biyombo potentially the next Serge Ibaka, or will he be a bust like Hasheem Thabeet? Nobody can know for certain but for a team desperate to upgrade their defensive intensity like the Raptors, Biyombo is impossible to overlook.

What impresses you most about Biyombo?

Scott Carefoot: There’s no question in my mind that he has the potential to be an impact player in the NBA with his elite combination of size, wingspan and athleticism. His buyout clause with Spanish club Fuenlabrada is reported to be a very reasonable one million Euros, and with a NBA lockout likely on the horizon, he can stay in Spain for a while and develop his game. He would probably be a reach at the fifth overall pick in almost any other draft, but his seemingly unlimited upside would create a lot of excitement among Raptors fans if Bryan Colangelo takes a chance on him.

Holly MacKenzie: What doesn’t impress me about Biyombo is probably a better question. Seemingly out of nowhere — at least with respect to being a lottery pick in this year’s draft–, this 18-year-old prospect introduced himself to us all when he dominated the Nike Hoop Summit this past April. Recording the first triple-double in Hoop Summit history — and breaking Kevin Garnett’s record for blocks in a game– Biyombo is exciting, intriguing and freakishly athletic. When you start throwing around comparisons to Serge Ibaka, I’m down. Obviously, the most impressive thing about Biyombo is his body. He’s got a 7-foot-7 wingspan despite standing just over 6-foot-7. That’s insanity. It’s also the fifth longest wingspan recorded in the database over at Draft Express. With that wingspan, Biyombo is all over the glass. With his athleticism, he’s got a ton of potential and in a weak draft without a lot of sure things, you want as much potential as you can find.

What’s more, though, is Biyombo’s maturity. Say what you will about his age, what we do know as fact is that Biyombo has leadership qualities and a good head on his shoulders. He wants to succeed at the highest level and his leadership qualities were on full display at the Hoop Summit where he looked, acted and sounded much more put together than your typical 18 year-old. Of course, this has led to suspicion about his age, but let’s just take him at his word and assume he’s a wickedly smart, aware and mature 18 year old.

Joseph Casciaro: There’s a lot to like about Biyombo’s game, but if I had to pick one thing, it would definitely be his length. We’re talking about a 6’9″ kid with an incredible 7’7″ wingspan. That length is the source of his phenomenal defensive instincts and abilities, including his shot-blocking and rebounding. And while his offensive game is still a work in progress, to say the least, his length makes it easy for him to rack up easy points around the basket. If Biyombo gets the ball with a clear view of the rim and little space separating him from it, just get your cameras ready and expect an exciting finish.

What are your biggest concerns about Biyombo’s NBA prospects?

Scott Carefoot: There are a lot of “unknowns” about Biyombo. How far away are his basketball skills from the NBA level? Is he willing and able to play center? Is he really 18 years old? There won’t be any sure things available at the Raptors’ pick, but I don’t know how Raptors fans will handle it if this franchise manages to whiff on yet another lottery pick.

Holly MacKenzie: Biggest concern is obviously that there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to Biyombo. Also, he’s raw. Like, really, really raw offensively. While he gets comparisons to Ibaka, that’s on the defensive end of the floor. Despite being very limited offensively, he’s 18. He has a 7-foot-7 wingspan. He’s got a a 243-pound frame and has less than 5-percent body fat. He’s got great timing and good basketball instincts. I can sacrifice passing skills and a honed offensive game at this point. I couldn’t sacrifice desire and work ethic and I don’t think you have to worry about either when it comes to Biyombo.

Joseph Casciaro: Obviously, everyone is going to be talking about the “unknowns” with Biyombo over the next month or so. I get it – he’s from Congo and there is little information out there on his development and what not. But at the end of the day, it’s not like he’s playing in Congo right now or playing in a league with no eyes on him. He’s playing in what many consider the best league in the world outside of the NBA (ACB), or at least one of the best. And he’s more than shown he belongs when given the opportunity in that league and in the Nike Hoops Summit. Another concern would be his real age, with some alarming reports/rumours saying he could be as old as 26. However, according to Draft Express, a bone age study confirmed that Biyombo is as young as advertised. If the off-court issues are put to rest, then I can focus on the on-court concern, which is his offence. From everything I’ve read and seen of Biyombo in small snippets, if he’s not dunking, he’s probably not scoring.

How good of a fit do you think Biyombo would be on the Raptors?

Scott Carefoot: If he can play center, then he’s exactly the type of player this franchise needs to revitalize its beleaguered defense. If he’s best-suited to play power forward in this league, then this pick wouldn’t make a ton of sense considering that Ed Davis probably has that position locked down for at least the next few seasons. While I understand that you should typically draft the best player available instead of drafting for need in the NBA, power forward is the one position it makes sense for Colangelo to avoid in this draft — particularly when considering a relative longshot like Biyombo.

Holly MacKenzie: How many times this season have you heard Raptors fans salivate over a player like Ibaka? An athletic big man who can run the floor, block shots and play defense? Make my heart sing a little more, would you? It’s exciting just to think about. Of course, Biyombo’s height is a bit of a concern. Despite that 7-foot-7 wingspan, he’s still a 6-foot-7 guy, so it’ll be interesting to see where he plays on the floor. If he can play the five-spot, awesome. In a draft with a lot of maybes, Biyombo is one gamble I’m completely cool with taking. I can’t help it. Biyombo had me at the Ibaka comparisons.

Joseph Casciaro: How many times over the last year have you heard Raptors fans, and basketball fans in general, rave about Serge Ibaka? While Biyombo is a relative unknown, the fact is that he has the physical tools and natural ability (and a very similar build to Ibaka) to become a very similar player to his countryman. Biyombo will need some time in the NBA before anything grand should be expected of him, but his professional experience in Spain should speed up his development. If he can develop into the NBA big man that many envision, then I think his length and athleticism make him a perfect fit for the young and athletic Raptors. Yes, it would be a gamble to take him with the fifth overall pick, but really, there’s probably one can’t-miss player in this draft, and you could say the rest are all gambles.

Comments (18)

  1. Biyombo will fall in the 8-12 range I’m guessing, so taking him with a 5th pick would actually be a reach, especially when you can potentially have Knight, Walker, Leonard, or even Kanter (fingers crossed) at that position. If BC can somehow acquire another 1st round pick in that range, Biyombo would be a good choice. 5th is to risky to burn a pick on Biyombo, especially after not seeing him work out, the only chance any teams will get to see him will be on draft day. Outside of the Hoops Summit, there is very little we know of him.

  2. Have Scott, Holly, or Joseph actually watched him play outside of that one game (which is basically an all star game)? You guys speak about his work ethic and game as though you’re familiar with it.

  3. Joseph is Holly!!!

  4. @Chris I’ve spoken with various scouts about him as well as with other writers who have watched him play/interviewed him. What I’ve heard from the scouts has all been very impressive.

    @Jo Something to keep in mind: Players don’t have to come here to workout for a team. I’d expect the Raptors to send someone to go see Biyombo workout before the draft.

  5. I’m with Scott on this one. If the brass doesn’t think he can play the 5 (long arms are nice but 240 is a problem), I would pass. Obviously, if he really is 18, he not only has the potential to put on some more weight but he could still grow a bit. I don’t know how likely that is though…I love Ibaka but there’s a reason OKC picked up Perkins.

  6. Bismack Biyombo has bust written all over him.

    The comparison to Ibaka are ludacris he’s more like a shorter Alabi w/o Alabi’s jumper.

    Bismack’s only offense game is dunking the ball- nothing else at all.

    We don’t even know how old he really is. 18? 20? 23? 26?

    He didn’t record a triple double in the Nike Summit as his last block was a foul but they counted it as a block anyways in order to hype him up- recognize game.

    Plus that US Nike Summit Team had no real height on it- the International Team was much bigger, and alot of the shots he made would get thrown back in his face in the NBA.

    Rap’s need to sign Canadian & UFA Center Sam Dalembert this off season.

    Forget Internationals stick to North America.

    I would love to have fellow Canadians:

    Sam Dalembert, Joel Anthony & Jamaal Magloire

    as the Rap’s 3 deep center rotation instead of Internationals

    Bargnani, Ajinca & Alabi (I know he went to college in the US)

    as the Rap’s current 3 deep center depth.

    Rap’s better draft Walker or Leonard at 5!

  7. I’m done with the Raptors if they draft Biyombo. Although I wouldn’t mind watching Colangelo attempt to sell this scrub to Toronto, and then, six months later, trying to explain why Biyombo can’t catch a basketball in the D-league.

  8. @BCGherardiniJaygots2go

    Joel Anthony stayin with Heat, Jamaal Magloire lmao really? Dalembert averaging less than 10 RPG he not good either- recognize.

    You want Kawhi Leonard at 5? The guy that tested extremely and surprisingly poorly on the vertical leap test, i thought he was supposed to be an athlete, yeah right he ain’t. He can’t shoot a 3 either, you need your SF to be able to knock down 3s!! Listen up! You are right about Walker though. Who knows Biyombo can maybe be Ben Wallace in his prime? I still wouldn’t take him though, too risky he can be a bust!

  9. I know JAnthony is staying with the Heat- it’s all speculative.

    Jamaal Magloire would be the 3rd string roster center- he did grab 20 rebounds against the Rap’s in the final game of the season.

    Dalembert Anthony Magloire

    That would be a most decent 3 deep center rotation plus they are all Canadians!

    I was just saying that the Rap’s need to focus on North American (US/Canada) talent as it’s there for the signing. I mean BC ran with the 1st Canadian Head coach in NBA history for 2 3/4 seasons with Jay but no Canadian players on the Rap’s roster.

    Sammy D will protect the rim and paint area effectively as long as he is co
    ached that way a potential 10/10/3 player for the Rap’s. Plus he has played in all 82 games 4 of the past 5 seasons (this season he played in 80 games). Dalembert has averaged 8.3 rpg for his career.

    Next to current Rap’s PFs Davis & Johnson, Dalembert would look very nice in my mind.

    I have watched Kawhi play he is a baller- point blank, a potential lock down defender in the NBA at SF. KWalker is a potential Damon Stoudamire 2.0 type of player.

    Biyombo will be a bust, truss- think Alabi.

  10. Yes that is true, I would like to see some of that happen. We just need to get rid of Andrea Bargnani and the baggage that goes with him (Gheradinhi, his whiny trainer, dumb contract). He holding us back! Oh yeah maybe you are right on Kawhi Leonard, they say his vertical testing wasn’t that good because he didnt get a chance to warm up like the other players at the combine (i.e. they all participated in practice drills beforehand). I will like Leonard, but yes Kemba Walker can be a good player for this team he will be there at 5 with leonard. ahh who to pick. Would you like a Canadian player like Tristian Thompson? For me, maybe if we had another 1st round pick. Maybe Ed Davis better than him.

  11. I can’t believe there are actually people who still care about country of origin when evaluating players. Is there anything more irrelevant?

    Anyone who claims to know how this draft will turn out is just full of it. There is a better-than-average chance that any (and all) of the draftees this year will turn out to be pretty mediocre, if not complete busts. But Biyombo at least played for the Spanish league (one of the best in the world, outside of the NBA), played decent minutes and played well. Plus he skills he displayed there are the sort that can best translate to the NBA. If the experts think he can thicken up to a muscular 260, 270 or so, then I think he is totally worth a shot at center.

  12. @ Noah Body: I don’t see how the comparison of African prospects is irrelevant. First, there is a legitimate concern with verifying the actual age of the players, as there has been a history of uncertainty surrounding the validity of their birth certificates. Second, the majority of African prospects do not participate in organized basketball until much later in life, a fact that has a significant impact on the development of their games. There are certain fundamental/intuitive aspects of basketball that cannot simply be taught (and this is why Solomon Alabi, for example, looks like he just picked up basketball for the first time last week).

  13. I agree Bargnani, his personal GM (Gheradini) & personal trainer (Cuzzlino) from Italy need to go away- if (hopefully when) Bargnani is traded do they go with him as a packaged deal?

    As well, Barg’s quit on the Rap’s post London- someone get him a flu shot already he must have the immune system of a 5 year old- geez.

    A brand new 5 year 50 million dollar contract signed and he says- ‘sometimes I get lazy’- wtf? Bye, bye, bye!!

    KLeonard was cold during the testing due to sitting out the agility drills and the like. All one has to do is watch him play and see how high he gets above the rim to know he has some nice hops.

    TThompson would be a nice addition but Ed is already here along with Amir at PF but with BC you never know he may trade Ed or Amir before Barg’s even still.

    Canadian PG (Texas) Myck Kabongo might be a nice addition to the Rap’s as he’s projected by nbadraftnet to be a 2012 Lottery pick and the Rap’s may be in the Lottery next year. If the Rap’s need a pg then I would be all for Kabongo in the TDot.

  14. I still want the Rap’s to go after Canadian brethren Dalembert this off season as he is an UFA and can sign with any team he wants to sign with.

    C: Dalembert ? ?

    PF: Davis Johnson Dorsey

    Rap’s wouldn’t be soft up front anymore.

  15. @triano? – I don’t know why you are talking to me when your comment made no reference to anyone’s place of origin. Although I find comparing people from a *continent* to be pretty silly, too.

    I was more referring to the strange commenter who keeps talking about adding Canadians to our team. Or hating Euros. Very odd way to build a team.

  16. @BCGheradiniJayGots2go

    Haha yes I would like a little Canadian content on this team especially if they can play, dalembert is still not too old actually so he can work. Maybe if Raps got Dalembert then Leo Rautins aka the Yes-Man would leave the broadcast booth would be funny haha with their beef. I would like to see dorsey too bad jay didn’t play him to see what he can do, except in last game of season–too late, same with bayless. instead he played worse scrubs like ajinca trey johnson from d league even bargnani lmao. oh well we will see interesting offseason my friend.

  17. drafting this guy would be brutal u dont draft a guy in the top 5 if all hes ever going to be is a role player

  18. Another person who had similar measurements and playing style as Biyombo was Saer Sene. If we are going to discuss Kanter’s high bust potential, we should do the same with BB. I would rather the Raps pick Kanter or Knight (if available) than take a chance on someone with age concerns and who is sooo raw.

    I think Ed Davis can play the shot blocking role for the Raps and Kanter could be the defensive presence who doesn’t necessarily have to block shots to intimate (our own version of Ibaka/perkins)

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